Browsing "published work"
Mar 17, 2008 - published work, Society    3 Comments

Kiss of Death

My story published in the current issue of Herald.





Sep 28, 2007 - published work    3 Comments

A Welcome Islamism

Friday, September 28, 2007
Tazeen Javed

Since Mr Abdullah Gul became president of Turkey last month, talk of rising Islamism (which has become synonymous with obscurantism of late) in Turkey has dominated many think tanks, They are linking it with the global political Islamism and they also believe that it can be replicated in other Muslim countries, especially those where Islamist forces have been politically active, such as Egypt and Pakistan.

Egypt may have a chance in replicating something like the success of the AKP, but it does not have much of a chance in Pakistan. The religious political parties are either under hereditary leadership or political opportunists with hardly any educated religious scholars to develop political alternatives to battle the current chaos. In order for it to work in Pakistan, the religious political parties would be required to take a 180-degree turn and rewrite their manifestos, which usually start with US-bashing and end with Israel-bashing, with women-bashing thrown in the middle for good measure.

Neither President Gul nor Prime Minister Erdogan are Islamists, they both started their political careers with the Welfare Party, but their politics have always been secular. Yes, they are Muslims and their wives wear headscarves, but to equate the personal choice of a spouse to the religious right in other countries is far-fetched and has little credence, if any.

The policies of the AKP, since it assumed power in 2002, had been miraculous. For instance, the 2004 reforms to Turkey’s Penal Code, which were passed by an AKP-dominated parliament, have been revolutionary in granting women personal freedoms and rights to sexual autonomy. A Berlin-based institute, European Stability Initiative, in its report earlier this year said that the new penal code eliminated all references to patriarchal notions that are restricted to women alone, such as chastity, morality, shame, public customs or decency. The new penal code also treats sexual crimes as violations of individual women’s rights, and not as crimes against society, the family or public morality. Perhaps the biggest achievement of the AKP is that it criminalised rape in marriage, something which the secular Turkish establishment never bothered to address and which is absolutely impossible to address in other Muslim patriarchal societies such as Pakistan. In addition, the new Turkish penal code eliminated sentence reductions for honour killings, ended legal discrimination against non-virgin and unmarried women, and criminalised sexual harassment in the workplace and treated sexual assault by members of the security forces as aggravated offences. A landmark legislation has been an amendment on the penalty of sexual abuse of children because the possibility of under-age consent has been removed.

The AKP has broken the myth that only liberal and secular forces can safeguard women’s right. On the contrary, it was the 1924 constitution of Ataturk which stated that women’s bodies were the property of men, and that sexual crimes against women were in fact crimes against the honour of the family. The AKP reforms are supported by efforts to empower Turkish women and minimise the gender gap. According to the ESI report, a new liberal and Islamic feminist movement is gaining momentum in Turkey. Effective campaigns have been organised for the education of young girls in rural areas and shelters have sprung up across the country for women threatened by domestic violence or honour killings. (A very interesting statistical figure on the social change in Turkey is that between 1997 and 2004 the percentage of arranged marriages fell from 69 percent to 54 percent.)

The AKP proved its commitment to its electorate and moved beyond the traditional notions of what constitute women’s rights. It achieved this by working closely with Turkish civil-society and women’s groups, something which we don’t see happening in Pakistan. Here, the religious right is sceptical of civil-society organisations and terms many of them agents of West. The situation has deteriorated in the NWFP to the extent that for the ruling religious alliance the word NGO is now synonymous with immoral. The idea of working with women’s group to bring about constitutional reforms to achieve greater personal liberty for women is preposterous for such politico-religious parties.

Another factor that distinguishes the AKP from other religious political parties is that it has never been involved in West-bashing. For instance, Mr Gul, in his capacity as foreign minister, was responsible for the initiation of negotiation of Turkey’s entry into the EU. The massive penal and constitutional reforms were also brought forward to comply with EU demands. President Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan believe in the importance of engagement, especially economic engagement, rather than that of confrontation. Such common sense or sagacity is not prevalent in countries like Egypt or Pakistan.

Compare this to Pakistan, where religious groups force women to stay at home during elections in the NWFP. People like Mullah Fazlullah (of Swat) forbid parents, via illegal FM radio stations, to send their daughters to school. It is the MMA and its cohorts, such as the Tehrik-e-Insaaf and the PML-N, that first opposed the women’s protection bill, which does not grant any groundbreaking freedoms but just redressed the grievances that they endured since promulgation of the much-hated Hudood Ordinance, and were later responsible for watering it down. In addition, it is the same set of parliamentarians that has consistently rejected moves to toughen sentences against honour crimes.

One cannot deny that overwhelmingly religiosity is gaining ground in Pakistan and no political party which is overtly and vocally secular can hope to gain much, hence the need for moderate Muslim voices is greater than ever before. Gul and Erdogan belong to that group of reformers who wanted to break away from the rigid and dogmatic. Similarly, reformist members of the famous Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, who are disillusioned with their leadership, have been trying to form a new party. We need such forces in Pakistan to bridge the gap between various political groups at both the ends to encourage the spirit of democracy and harmony. Ironically, despite creating the country through a democratic process, most political parties in Pakistan are undemocratic in their own structure and only surface during elections. They do not have honest Islamic scholars amongst their ranks who are in sync with the voice of the common man and can provide with the intellectual framework under which political and social action can be taken.

In short, the AKP won not because of its Islamic leanings but because it practiced liberal democracy. It replaced a more authoritarian character of the government and made it more inclusive for weaker groups such as ethnic minorities and women. Easing curbs on the Kurdish language, which was previously considered a threat to unity, perhaps won it lasting sympathy in the Kurd areas. In addition, the AKP delivered economic reforms which resulted in high growth rate and improved infrastructure, employment and services with equitable distribution. The AKP won because its achievements during its first tenure outweighed the achievements of its many Kemalist predecessors.

With the recent reforms and the promise of some more, Turkey has emerged as a post-secular, post-patriarchal democracy which is a lesson for leaders of the struggling Muslim world today. The so-called “pro-deal” liberals in Pakistan should learn a lesson or two from all of it. Instead of branding their own countrymen bogeymen, to seek international legitimacy, they should respect democracy. Instead of shunning the Islamist forces, one should work with them, not for temporary political gains, but for lasting social justice, rule of law, development and democracy. Just like Turkey, the educated middleclass in Pakistan must reclaim its place in politics. It is this class that was instrumental in creating the country, it should also be a torch-bearer in bringing about the much needed social and political change.

originally published in The News http://thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=73815

Sep 16, 2007 - published work    2 Comments

Polls apart

EVER since year 2007 started, the buzzword is ‘Election Year’. Whether it is about the election year political or judicial activity, or the ‘good election year budget’, the election year sloganeering is at its peak and parties are busy forging new alliances and reviving the old ones to get the holy grail of parliamentary style democracy, simple majority in the lower house (heavy mandate is so out, remember what it did to a certain Mr Nawaz Sharif).With elections come election monitors, at least in countries where democracy is on shaky grounds and Pakistan certainly passes muster on that count. Election monitoring is the observation of an election by one or more independent parties, typically from another country or a non-governmental organisation (NGO), primarily to ensure the fairness of the electoral process.
An international election monitor is quite different from, let’s say, a class monitor. A class monitor is a lot more powerful than an international observer monitoring elections. The class monitor has complete authority over its subjects; an election monitor on the other hand, just monitors and reports the events as they unfold.
I too, have had the honour of working as an international observer monitoring elections in Sri Lanka for their parliamentary elections in 2004. My job was a bit more specific than your average run of the mill observer. I was there to specifically monitor election related violence. It meant that if anyone wanted to rig elections right in front of my eyes, they were welcome to do so, as long as they did it peacefully.
Before I embarked on the mission to observe, along with 15 other observers, I was given a couple of days of training about what to do in the field, what to look for, who to meet and what procedures to follow if I happen to witness election related violence. During the briefing, I was introduced to all kinds of election observers. The variety I got introduced to, for the very first time, was a diplomatic husband. I know the term is quite alien to us Pakistanis where husbands need not be diplomatic at all, but believe me, there are quite a number of them out there. All of them were from Scandinavian countries. Their wives work for diplomatic missions, so they could not be engaged in gainful employment. As they don’t attend ikebana classes like most diplomatic ladies do, they spend their days collecting children from school or playing golf or monitoring elections as it is not classified as work. Technically, you have to volunteer to observe elections.
There are monitors who have mastered the art of monitoring elections and have monitored elections everywhere; from Belarus to Nigeria to Papua New Guinea to Ecuador. One monitor’s dream monitoring job was to monitor elections in Saudia Arabia, when they get democracy that is.Some observers are students from rich countries with huge doctoral grants who want to get in the underbelly of the political system of a third world country and what better of that would be than monitoring elections.
Then there are US monitors who want to bring ‘democracy’ to the whole world. When I lauded their efforts of flying off to foreign lands, making the rest of the world safe for ‘democracy’, and asked them if their government would open doors for the rest of the world to check on the fairness of elections in US, they said that US boasts the oldest democracy which hardly requires monitoring. I guess Florida is no longer part of the United States.
Last but not the least are the penury stricken students like me who take on the job because it meant a month away from cold and damp Manchester and a chance to visit home for very little money. Curiosity about the process and prestige ranked much lower when I agreed to take on the job.
After being trained when I went to my duty station, which was a large area around the hill station of Kandy, I made a schedule for the fortnight I had before elections about the places to visit and the people to meet. Sadly, my schedule was shot to pieces with almost daily occurrence of bomb blasts, if it can be called that. Every other day, one would hear about a bomb blast in an area. Upon visiting the site, we would find a one and half feet-wide dent, caused by a homemade petrol bomb created in a used soft drink bottle. The only incident when they actually used hand grenades did not garner much attention as none of the bombs exploded. I ventured too close to the site and squatted next to the unexploded hand grenade to take a picture. My 70-year-old translator almost had a heart attack flinging his arms like crazy asking me to get away. He was not too happy with me and only stopped admonishing me when I told him that my bravado stemmed from ignorance rather than valour and courage.
As part of the monitoring process, I met local politicians from the three leading political parties. Imagine the plight of those who will have to monitor elections in Pakistan. They will have to meet with a dozen factions of PML alone, then there are a couple of JUIs, JUPs and MQMs along with ANP, JI, TI, NAP, BNP, JWP and what not. To top it, we have three versions of Ms Bhutto’s political party which are Pakistan Peoples Party, Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians and of course Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarian Patriots (Quite a mouthful, isn’t it?).
While monitoring elections in Sri Lanka, one politician asked me about my nationality. When I told him I am from Pakistan, he asked me if I know Shoaib Akhtar. The only common ground between me and Mr Akhtar is our green passport and nothing else. When I tried to divert his attention to Sri Lankan politics and the violence around it, he refused to budge and talked about his plans to invite himself as a chief guest to all international cricket matches and meet his favourite stars when he gets to the parliament and becomes a minister. Shoaib Akhtar obviously topped his wish list along with Rahul Dravid, Jaques Kallis and Brett Lee.
In the end, my station turned out to be quite peaceful. There were no deaths reported and only four people got injured. A few bombs here and there and the minor irritant of Shoaib Akhtar fixation, it was quite an experience, one that I would highly recommend.

originally published in dawn

http://dawn.com/weekly/dmag/dmag6.htm

Aug 26, 2007 - published work, travel    No Comments

Packing the Persepolis punch



Although Iran is far more famous these days for its ambitious President Mahmud Ahmedinijad and its uranium enrichment plans, its historical treasure far outweighs that claim to fame. One such treasure is the once famous city of Persepolis, about 400 miles south of the capital near the modern city of Shiraz, just over an hour’s flight from Tehran. It was the seat of a powerful dynasty of Zoroastrian kings who ruled this region 2,500 years ago, and even today its ruins convey a sense of royal power. Founded by Persian King Darius the Great in about 518BC, the site’s Iranian name is Takht-e-Jamshid – The throne of Jamshid – the mythical King of Iran. It was also called Parsa, but when the Greeks came they changed the name to Persepolis, meaning the city of Persians.

One of the most awe-inspiring monuments of the ancient world, Persepolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenian Empire. It was built during the reign of Darius I, and developed further by successive kings. The various temples and monuments are located upon a vast platform. At the head of the ceremonial staircase leading to the terrace is the ‘Gateway of All Nations’ built by Xerxes I and guarded by two colossal bull-like figures.

Perhaps the most splendid architectural expression of the Achaemenid Empire, the city was built on a huge half-artificial, half-natural terrace. The main characteristic of Persepolitan architecture is its columns. Grey limestone is the main material used in the buildings in Persepolis. The greatest palace was named Apadana and was used for the Shehenshah’s (King of Kings) official audiences. The work began in 515 BC during Darius’ era and was completed 30 years later, by his son Xerxes I. The palace had a grand hall in the shape of a square, each side being 60 metres long with 72 columns, 13 of which still stand on the enormous platform. The columns carried the weight of the vast and heavy ceiling. The tops of the columns were made from animal sculptures such as two headed bulls, lions and eagles.

A visit to Persepolis is the cultural highlight of any visit to Iran. This scribe visited the city at the height of summer, but such is the magical aura of the place that one feels transported to another era. The remains such as bas-relief wall and sculptures provide an insight into hearts and beliefs of the ancient Iranians. The wall depicts the coronation of one of the Achaemenid kings where ambassadors from different countries are paying homage to the new king and presenting gifts from their kings. The cuneiform inscription informs us that Parthians, Abyssinians, Greeks from Odysseus’s Ionian Islands, Arabs, Indians and Gandarans from Afghanistan, all came to pay tributes to the Persian king. One can almost imagine how it must have looked back then

The great king Alexander is not a well-liked figure in Iran which should not come as a surprise because he was responsible for the demolition of the great palaces, when a drunken party ended with the burning of the palaces, the effects of which can still be seen in the Tachara, Darius’s private palace, where the stone is blackened and clearly heat-damaged. When this scribe asked a few local students what they thought about the Macedonian invader, they unanimously said that he was a terrible man. He was an invader who was only interested in adding land and countries to his empire, a violence junkie and a looting drunkard. “Quite like American forces in Baghdad,” added one student.

The buildings at Persepolis are divided into three areas – military quarters, the treasury, the reception and occasional houses for the King of Kings. These include the Great Stairway, the Gate of Nations built by Xerxes, the Apadana palace of Darius, the Hall of a Hundred Columns, the Tripylon Hall and Tachara palace of Darius, the Hadish palace of Xerxes, the palace of Artaxerxes III, the Imperial Treasury, the Royal Stables and the Chariot house.

A visit to Persepolis is highly recommended for history and architecture aficionados, in fact it is recommended for anyone who likes beauty. It definitely is worth bearing the heat, the scorching sun and the dust.

Originally published in Dawn http://dawn.com/weekly/dmag/dmag9.htm
Jun 17, 2007 - published work    1 Comment

The big three-O

Last week, it was a friend’s thirtieth birthday and a few of us decided to throw her a big party. After all, it’s not everyday you hit the big three-O. Amidst all the other more predictable gifts (perfumes, stationary and clothing), one of her co-workers gave her a novel called Turning Thirty. While I thought it was a nice present, my friend thought it was horrendously mean of her co-worker to give her a present that reminded one of a youth bygone. “Youth bygone,” I shrieked. “You just turned 30, not 60,” I said. But my friend was none too pleased so I took that book with me and said if it had anything worthwhile I will let her know.

How different 30 is from 29 that the transition evoked such a strong reaction, I wondered. Well, for starters, when you’re 29, people just think you’re lying about being 30. Whereas when you really are 30, you have to face the fact that you are an adult and you have taxes to pay (you probably were paying them since you were 23 but they hit you harder when you are 30). In your twenties, you can deny adulthood. You can afford not to have a career and say that you are experimenting with what you really want and get away with it; turning 30 changes it all. Thirty is when denial meets reality, which is why most of us have resolutions where the benchmark year is — you guessed it right, 30. We often hear people saying ‘I will be a published author before I turn 30’ or ‘I will make my first million before I turn 30 (although inflation has made it a possibility for most of the white collar corporate workers). To most of us, 30 seems just the right age to have life sorted.

While going through the book, I asked myself, why is it that people dread turning 30 the most? After all, you have had 29 birthdays before that and you will continue to have many more (hopefully) after that one. So what is it that makes it either the most anticipated or most terrified of birthdays? Is it as bad as Ally McBeal thought (she thought it was worse than death) or something less gruesome. Is it the transition from youth to adulthood or something much deeper and profound? I asked a few people who either have turned 30 or will hit the mark in the next couple of years to find how they view their thirtieth year on this planet.

Haroon, a 31-year-old marketing exec, said that turning 30 was quite an event for him. ” I think I’ve started to internalise only then how finite our time on earth is, there’s so much that I wanted to accomplish in my life and in my career, and it felt that I have yet to make decent progress on that,” he said (quite not what you expect from a marketing whiz).

Sidra, a mother of two and a teacher, took her thirtieth in her stride. “My thirtieth birthday was not that different from my 21st. I am just 20 pounds heavier, a mother and most of my male friends are follically challenged and live in the land of wispy strands,” she cheerfully said. Ali actually looked forward to his thirtieth birthday. “Isn’t your thirtieth all about what you have achieved in life?” he asked. “I probably felt good because I had achieved most of the things that I wanted to do in life (with the exception of getting married to Miss World),” he added.

For Mustafa, it is not about how much one has achieved in the previous three decades of one’s life but about how happy one is in one’s own skin. “I think it takes you roughly three decades to figure out who you are and how you feel about most things in life. Now, I know who I am and so I don’t really waste a lot of energy trying to be someone I’m not,” ponders Mustafa.

Naheed, 29, does not know how she would behave on her thirtieth. She thinks she will probably be having a nervous breakdown from turning 30. Isn’t it too strong a reaction, I asked. “Well, 30 is difficult,” she said. “When you turn 40, it’s expected of you to have a mid-life crisis, but if you are having one at 30, people think you are just a whiner,” she thought. For Sana, the idea of turning 29 was more trying that than the realty of turning 30. To her, 30 means starting a new decade of her life, whereas turning 29 was the end of a youthful era.

So how markedly different the thirties are from the twenties? Quite different, if I may say so. When you are in your thirties, you seriously think gardening is a good way to spend a lazy Sunday morning. Turning 30 also means buying life insurance and refusing to give your age away when someone asks you how old you are and saying something like ‘age is nothing but a number’ or ‘you are as old as you feel’ (unless you feel no remorse in lying blatantly to everyone’s face). Thirty is when you prefer watching BBC food over MTV and it becomes really important for you to know actually how many people work under you. Most of you probably have people at work whose part of job description is to listen to you.

Another way to find out that you are well and truly in your thirties is that you look at firebrand activists wanting to save the world with a cynical and knowing smile. For you, the biggest service to society would be actually getting out of your bed on Election Day and voting for someone. Previously, there used to be lots of things you didn’t do because you had no money; now there are lots of things you don’t do because you have no time. Previously, you were not making enough money to be eligible for a credit card, now people are trying hard to sell you one.

In my personal opinion, turning 30 isn’t so bad. Lots of people would love to be 30. Especially the ones who are 40!
(It was originally published in dawn http://www.dawn.com/weekly/dmag/dmag24.htm and the lovely illustration is by Fieca)
May 7, 2007 - published work, romance, travel    9 Comments

Finding romance at the airports

During my late night channel surfing last night, I came across a teleplay called Pyar Kahani on one of the local channels. It was a 25 minute long love story with minimal dialogues and a lot of background music.  

It all started at John F. Kennedy International Airport where a shalwar kameez clad Pakistani dosheeza (played by a Bangladeshi actor) with no English language skills was wandering around the JFK, looking all harassed (just like the razia jo ke ghundon main phans gayee ho, although no ghundas were in sight). She was keenly watched by a cute guy (we later found out that he was a Brazilian) with a manual camera slung from his neck (giving him the arty hipster look). They starting talking or rather gesticulating as much as they could have, given the girl’s almost nonexistent and the guy’s barely there English. They both then discovered that they had to kill ten long hours at JFK, so they decided to play tourist and hailed a cab to take them to, where else but Manhattan. The cabbie was a desi who gave our heroine killing looks that vary from “humaree larki sharam-o-haya se na waqif hai aur goray ke sath akaylay ghoom rahee hai” to “aur agar ghoomna hi that au hum mar gaye thay kiya.” They were later shown roaming around Times Square, Broadway, streets of Manhattan and of course Central Park where they paid tribute to John Lennon.

After a long day of taking in sights and sounds of New York and of each other, they boarded another cab to go back to the airport. They were quiet on their way back, stealing surreptitious glances at each, pondering about the impending end of the cab ride. Thankfully it was gora cabbie who minded his own business and dropped them off at JFK. They said their goodbyes and parted ways, she sat amongst the desi crowd in the lounge for the Pakistan bound flight while he roamed a different corner of the airport. Just when our heroine was about to board the flight, the Latino hottie realized that he is in love with our desi damsel and ran after her. In true rom-com tradition, the lift was not available and the escalator was not working and our Brazilian hero (who looked fit enough to out run many sprinters) had to run a couple of flights of stairs and vast corridors at JFK to find his dusky maiden. In the end, they meet and confessed their love … and I am sure they lived happily ever after.

The story was ok – a little too sweet for my taste though – and I have nothing against it, but it was a fantasy; a rather childish one at that. In real life, you see sunburned aged Nordic lotharios at Bangkok airport, yuppies yammering into their cell phones at Singapore, cabbies fighting for customers at Islamabad, men of all ages and nationalities staring at women’s breasts in Cairo (I think it is the national time pass activity of men aged 14 – infinity) and just about every human ear attached to an ipod on any of British airports. I have traveled a lot and most of the time I traveled by myself and have never come across a cute and smitten Brazilian man, or any cute guy for that matter. Most of the time, I end up directing aunties from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh to the nearby toilets, drinking water taps or their respective gates.

All the four times that I have been to India, I filled an average of 17 ‘entry in India’ forms per visit. Not only did I fill those blasted forms for myself or the odd old aunty traveling alone from Pakistan to see dying relatives in India, I filled up the forms of so many Indians who cannot read and write in English. The Indian government, by some stroke of genius, prints all those entry forms in English alone. May be they want the world to think that literacy is universal in India or maybe they just want the English speaking cool people to come back into the country,  but I digress.

If I am not helping old aunties, I end up answering stupid question asked by young and old alike. Once on my way to Germany, I had a four hour long transit (where else but in DO-BUY-EE). I settled in a chair with a book (of course it happened after a facilitation session where I helped two young women from Lahore on their way to Jo’burg to reunite with their respective husbands in finding the usual toilet, tap and gate). They decided that instead to finding a place near their gate, they should hang out with me. Our conversation went something like this:

Lady1: So you are married?
I: No, I am not.
Lady 2: But why are you not married, umar tau ho gaye hai shadi ki.
I: bas ji aisay hi naheen ki.
Lady 2: haw, yeh kya baat hue. Chalo koi naheen, hum karwa dain gay, zaat kiya hai tumharee.
I: (totally taken aback) ji zaat?????
Lady 1: haan zaat, hor kiya?
I: ji who tau naheen pata.
Lady1 &2: (in unison) haw hai … zaat ka naheen pata … tum Karachi walay shadee waghera kaisay kartay ho.
I: bas ji aisay hi kar laitay hain … bagher zaat ke.
Lady1: bas rehnay do … isi liye shade naheen hue tumharee ke zaat paat ka pata naheen.

I picked up my bag and said, “oh my flight is about to leave,” and the spent the next two hours, cooped up in special people’s toilet (my heartfelt apologies to anyone who wanted to use the facility) alternately blistering and reading my book.

Another time, I was mobbed by three sardarnis at Heathrow, screaming Pallaviiiiiiiiii!!!!! and asking for my autograph. Pallavi??? I asked them who is this Pallavi and why do they think she is autograph worthy, but they refused to listen and I actually ended up signing their autograph books with “regards, Pallavi.” I later found out that it was a character in one of the saas bahu Indian telly soap and the sardarniyan thought I was her (my very personal brush to fame).

Other incidents include an Indian guy asking for 5 dollars to buy coffee at Pearson International, Toronto. Once I was glancing through the Indian edition of cosmopolitan featuring Sushmita Sen in flimsy chiffon dress at the airport in Delhi and a Pakistani uncle, who was sitting next to me, craned his neck to the level of disfigurement to catch a glimpse of lovely Sushmita. When I was done with the magazine, he asked if he can borrow the magazine. Annoyed that I was, I said no, you cannot borrow it. He was persistent and asked why? I held up the magazine and said, “The cover says that it is the magazine for today’s women. You certainly do not belong to the present generation and are most definitely not a woman.”

So far, my finest hour has been the conversation with a Chinese man at Schiphol airport who taught me the choice swear words in Chinese. I may not be able to swear in English and Urdu with such profundity, but I am sure I can shame any hoodlum in the streets of shanghai after that tutorial ….
Shanghai, here I come ….



The published version of the article can be accessed here


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