Jun 21, 2007 - Uncategorized    2 Comments

summer and faraghat

I may not have sent out an ad this Sunday but most of you do know that I am unemployed and have some time on me. And how am I spending it, by watching one DVD after another.

Now that I have done all the hard work, I want you guys to save the trouble of watching these films. Let’s start with Spiderman. I am not really a fan of the superheroes movies (Batman begins was an exception perhaps because it did not have any CGI -computer generated imaging- and because it had Christian Bale) but this one takes the cake. The basic premise was power corrupts and Spiderman let his powers go to his head. If you thought Marry Jane whined in the first two installments, you aint seen anything yet baby. She indulges in what can be called a ‘whine fest’. The villains were far cooler than the heroes and you wanted them to kill the Spiderman. Like any other super hero film, it ended on the good triumphing over bad … what a cliché.

Ocean’s 13 was another sequel but this one was better than Ocean’s 12. Matt Damon wore a prosthetic nose. If he was thinking that a prosthetic nose won Nicole Kidman an Oscar and he can win one too, he had another think coming. Kidman was a lonely woman who was divorced after a long marriage and got all sympathy votes. Damon is a happy family man and will need a lot more than prosthetic to win the bald guy.

Jhom Barabar Jhoom reiterates my belief that bad bois come with a huge babe magnet that stays switched on 24/7 coz there is no other explanation why a middle class uber sophisticated desi chick in UK who generally abhors all thing desi would fall for a shady character from Punjab who is as colorful as the meetha pan from PIDC with multicolor khopra. It also reiterates my conviction that women who swear with confidence are soooo cool. Just watch Lara Dutta calling everyone Harami and sooar and you will know what I mean. It also reconfirms the fascination of Indian film gurus with Pakistani girls as both the heroines are Pakistani.

The third installment of Pirates of the Caribbean was a major disappointment. Captain Barbossa returns from the dead, Will asks Elizabeth to marry him and Captain Jack Sparrow was his usual delightful self.

Now that the film I was downloading is with me, I am off to watch it, will let you know it turned out to be any decent.

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 30, 2007 - Uncategorized    2 Comments

Welcome to MY WORLD

I woke up this morning with electricity breakdown and I just knew that it would not turn out to be the day that I wanted. As soon as I started my car, Atif Aslam was crooning (read crying) on both the radio channels that I listen to. I had to tune into another radio station just to avoid him which is a lot of effort for someone like me. Then, I got pulled over by the traffic sergeant for actually driving the way everyone should; that is staying in my lane. I used my gift of gab, impressive angrezi skills and last but definitely not the least; my employment card from my previous job (the biggest TV channel in Pakistan). He behaved the way most sergeants behave with journalists in a third world country; he bowed with a smile and left way.

Then I got late for work and had to placate a boss who, on best of the days, is instable (and I am putting it very very mildly) and can flare up over the minutest of things. After I settled in my make shift desk, (yes, I recently got evicted from my cabin) I had to endure an interrogation session by this bozo at work who is intolerable on the best of the days and today has most certainly not been a good day so far.

I am sure it is quite obvious by now that I don’t love my job. I have been called for the second interview for a job that I wanted badly. I was almost offered the job but was offered such a horrible package that I had to refuse (WHY ME???). Heartbroken, I came back to work and honked my horn like crazy all the way because of every motorcyclist in this blasted city had decided to drive in the first lane this particular afternoon. I came back and asked for tea and was given a lukewarm tea. Lukewarm tea!!!!! What can be worse than that??? Well a milky lukewarm tea.

To cheer myself, I though I should check my email (all you people who know me should have written to me, but none of you did) and guess what I found. An email from Liberty Books announcing new arrivals! Among other books, there was Twice as Good, Condi’s biography, but I had decided that being a patriotic Pakistani, I would not read that because she bitched about our lame duck PM Short-cut Aziz (yes, he IS lame duck. Imran Khan is working hard to get (s)elected for the next term). At the end of the list, I saw three titles, first was ‘Keeping the Love You Find: Single person’s Guide to Achieving Lasting Love’ which tells you that your dream of finding a partner is a natural and normal human instinct and your dream is perfectly achievable. Whatever your history, whatever your heartbreak, as a single person just read this magic book and wild passionate love awaits you at the corner (yeah right).

The second one was ‘Getting the Love You Want: a Guide for Couples’ which claims to have helped thousands of couples attain more loving, supportive and deeply satisfying relationships. Read the first book to find the love and read the second one to keep it (what would have happened to the global social fabric if it were not for these two books).

If you thought the first two titles were … well cheesy (and I am using this word for the want of a cheesier word), the third one takes the cake, the pastry and the pudding. It’s called ‘Fertility Foods: Optimize Ovulation and Conception through Food Choices’. What a great trilogy it is; you find love, you keep love and if you cannot conceive after finding and keeping that love, here is the guide to food that help you double the ovulation or put an added zing to your little runners (depending on your gender of course) and significantly improve your fertility and reduces the chance of miscarriage.

What the world is coming to? One can’t even check emails without getting reminders that one has not ‘found’ love, hence cannot ‘keep’ that unfound love and the fact that if you don’t do that soon enough you may need to take help from Dr Mumbo Jumbo’s fertility food to optimize ovulation! I want outta this world, and I want it soon.

Am I wrong, or is it not halal enough to want to die?

May 30, 2007 - rant    2 Comments

I am cursed: I can’t lie

One of my aunts has been dieting for the past four months. Desperate to know if it’s working, she asked a bunch of us if she had lost any weight. One of my cousins promptly said, “Yes auntie, in fact, I didn’t ask earlier as I thought it would be impertinent,” she quipped with a butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-her-mouth smile. I, on the other hand, kept quiet because I am one of those blessed (read cursed) people who cannot lie convincingly. Auntie wanted to know everyone’s comment on her newly trimmed (in her opinion) self and turned her eyes on me. I stuttered, aware of my sister’s glare, “um … I don’t know … I guess you have lost some weight but … ah … I wouldn’t know … you see … I am very bad at… um … you know … noticing things.” Needless to say that she was not happy with my answer and I had to endure a long lecture from my sister on my lack of social graces. It’s not that I am an insensitive fool or have a mean disposition; my problem is much more complex — I can’t lie.

Lies come in many shapes and guises, from the classic little white ones to the colossal desecration of truth we all endure at the hands of politicians (remember Zia-ul-Haq’s pledge of election within 90 days). There are lies based on kindness — on wanting to spare someone else’s feelings, and other lies, less noble, based on wanting to spare one’s own feelings. Then, there are lies one tells oneself to justify bad decisions or bad behaviour; there are manipulative lies told to gain unfair advantage and lies told under oath about which a certain Mr Clinton knows of. Just as there are various types of lies, there are different attitudes towards lying. Some people take great pride in lying well, while the puritanical types run a mile if asked to lie.

We all lie, for expediency, by choice, by accident or by default. Lying might be a relentlessly necessary part of our world and time may have expanded our appreciation of inventiveness, creativity, and cunningness, while undermining some of our more simplistic assumptions about truth but it is always easier to tell the truth. Lies may be part and parcel of living in the natural world, but so are gangsters, floods and malaria. Simply because something is natural doesn’t always mean it’s a good thing. There are other beings who find it easier to be truthful. A friend once asked me if he was losing hair and I instantly said, “at the rate you are losing them, you might as well check out the hair care clinics for any treatment.” After all there are limits to the obligation of friendship. As a result, he didn’t speak to me for three days afterwards. So if you happen to pass me by, don’t ask if you look fat in the dress you are wearing. I might say yes.

May 25, 2007 - quirky, travel    5 Comments

Public Sex !!!!

I know it is sad, some may even call it demented, but as soon as summers begin, my cravings for long exotic holidays start. Most of the time, I cannot give in to them for reasons ranging from penury to familial obligations (how do I wish that I was born in a bubble) to not getting time off (Pakistan is a horrendously marriage – heterosexual of course – friendly country and married people with young children are given preference for holidays in summer).

As I cannot travel during the summers, I do the next best thing. I check out all the travel websites from wikitravel to guardian and ny times to lonely planet and what not for the remotest places. Sometime back, I though I should look up Pakistani locations, after all it is the visit Pakistan year and poor Niilofar Bakhtiar braved a fatwa or two for luring people to Pakistan, the least I can do is take cyber interest in the touristy locations of Pakistan.
I stumbled upon this travelogue by an Indonesian student who posted some pictures of his time in Harrappa. If only ministry of tourism take note of those pictures paste them on the official tourism website, we can get a lot more visitors. After all where else can you see sexual intercourse on the streets? Yes, it happening on the streets of Harrappa, Lahore and even Karachi. The funny thing is, no one minds that, we are truly an enlightened and moderate nation. If you don’t believe me, see the picture yourself, after all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Hail enlightened moderation.

here is the link

May 25, 2007 - Uncategorized    1 Comment

My latest dilemma

I am uninspired.

I know it’s a sad confession but I am not inspired enough to write, to work or even to make an effort and be social. Someone I know suggested that I need to molest hot men in order to get inspired. To begin with, there are not m(any) hot men to go around; secondly, I am not even inspired enough to molest them. I need to get my behind kicked hard and to get inspired with something.
This guy I know calls it a generation ‘X’ dilemma, the generation that wants to be entertained all the time. I just reminded him that all generation ‘X’ people are either making bagfuls of money working for multi-nationals now or/and are having babies. I, on the other hand, am the product of post-modernism, post-structuralism, post neo-classical, post most cool things era. I cannot be classified as anything but post something, like Gen Zzzzzzz (the number of zs denotes the never ending lethargy).
I think I am too uninspired to further go on … let me go back to sleep …. zzzzzzzzz

May 25, 2007 - rant    No Comments

Outer Mongolia … no more

A friend who thinks I am good enough to be a published writer insisted that I become more disciplined and start writing. When I complained that I cannot focus enough to write at length, he told me to get out of Karachi. He thinks Karachi doesn’t seem like a writer’s city, it is far too demanding and not loving enough.

In my opinion, it is not just Karachi, the whole bloody world is far too demanding (I know I am whining but it is good to whine once in a while, is it not?); unless you go and live in Outer Mongolia (my favorite point of reference for all things odd and out of way). I think I need to change that point of reference as McDonlad’s is planning to open its door to the people of Ulan Bator (capital of Mongolia) and it will no longer remain “outer” but will soon be “inner” part of the ugly face of investment.

May 21, 2007 - urban    1 Comment

The most original idea

I live in Karachi- what once was known as the city of lights (it now has the distinction of being called the city of candle lights).

Everyone has an idea or two about dealing with the bijli crisis in Pakistan in general and Karachi in particular, but the most novel idea came from my favourite maulanas of the week year. Yes, I am talking about Maulana Abdul Rasheed and Abdul Aziz (Lal Masjid again).

The controversial clerics came out with an odd solution for the current power crisis in the country. “The power shortage in the country will end if the ruling class, military and police stop ironing their clothes, ” Maulana Abdul Aziz, chief cleric of the Lal Masjid, said in a statement in Islamabad. “If the rich and powerful adopt frugal habits and live simply wearing un-ironed clothes, the country can considerably conserve energy to reduce rigors of power shortages,” he siad. According to him, the elite sections of society were living a sinful life of opulence, lavish spending and indiscriminate use of national resources including power facilities that has pushed the country into a crisis-like situation of power outages and forced load-shedding of electricity”

Now that’s what I call an original idea. I can so understand why thousand follow them.

May 20, 2007 - Society, women    2 Comments

We are a confused nation

Ahhh I was waiting to hear news like that. The Lahore High Court (ordered the Interior Ministry to place the names of a same-sex couple of Faisalabad on the Exit Control List after they failed to appear before the court despite arrest warrants.

The court, on an application of Tariq Hussain, father of Shehzina, the alleged wife of Shamile Raj, ordered to place the couple on the ECL.The father, in his application, apprehended that the couple could flee the country. He said Shamile Raj and Shehzina were planning to flee the country with the help of some NGOs and they had completed their documents for the purpose. He told the court that a network was working in Faisalabad, which arranged same sex marriages, and Khalid Bhatti was its ringleader. ‘Many others, including a daughter of Khalid Bhatti and brother of Shamile Raj, are also involved in it,’ he alleged. He said he had registered a case against Bhatti and the couple while the police arrested Zahid, brother of Shamile Raj. The couple, Shamile Raj and Shehzina Tariq. had approached the LHC, seeking protection from the police and harassment from their families, masquerading as husband and wife. But the matter took a new turn when Tariq Hussain, the father of Shehzina, appeared in the court and submitted that both were girls. He disclosed that Shamile Raj was a girl and her original name was Nazia. Later, the court ordered the medical examination of Raj, the ‘husband’ which confirmed she was a woman.

Despite being an extremely homoerotic country (where else you find men holding hands in public, public display of wild passionate encounters on all chappar hotels along the GT Road with transvestites, hermaphrodites and young boys; women getting married to Quran who later take up concubines ) we now have the distinction of being homophobic and that too at judicial level. Yes, we are a confused nation and this further validates the confusion

Up until now, we have only been putting corrupt politicos and Al-Qaeda members wanted by good ol’ US on the exit control list but now this list has gotten diversified. I am all for diversity, it has what made US great and I am sure it will make us great too, of course in due course. Before this our exit control list was overwhelmingly male, now it has members from the fairer sex. Some of the detractors of women’s inclusion in the list will say that it just another ploy to get western asylum and once they will reach the western hemisphere, they will revert back to their straight ways.

May 10, 2007 - Uncategorized    1 Comment

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