Tagged with " Personal"
Jul 1, 2009 - Uncategorized    32 Comments

A samosa stall in Fiji

Last month, an American friend who has been living in Italy for quite some time packed her bags and moved to India to work as a human rights activist. In her former life, she was a dancer and performer and has taught dance not only in US, but also in Italy and South Korea.

Then I read this book called Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez where a Midwestern hairdresser flies out to Kabul after her marriage ends and opens a beauty school in Kabul. She has now written a best seller about her exploits in Afghanistan.

Yesterday, I saw this amazing video story (New York Times) about Todd Shea, an American musician who came to Pakistan following the 2005 earthquake and then never left. From being a musician in New York, he now runs a charity hospital in the remote Chikar village in Pakistani Kashmir and lives in a ramshackle house.

A few moments ago, I got a call from my friend Anita in India, a hot shot banker who was making shit loads of money just resigned from her job. She has decided to leave India for the time being and will soon be leaving for Mexico to learn Spanish cooking and the language. Exciting, isn’t it?

Being the crazy, neurotic person that I am, I see a pattern here. I think it is about time I change my current line of work (which, by the way, sucks big time) and also change my current time zone. Right now, I am thinking about opening up a samosa stall on a Fijian beach. I can make some really kick ass samosas, I like beaches and Fiji is as far away from current life as anything on the planet can possibly be. If any of my readers have a better suggestion, please let me know. I will forever be grateful.

How would a samosa stall look here?

Jun 20, 2009 - published work    40 Comments

From Daddy’s girl

Father’s day may be a creation of Hallmark cards to sell their merchandise in times of lull, but it is a beautiful reminder that we need to appreciate our fathers and tell them that we love them, something we often tend to forget. For a country that celebrates births, weddings and birthdays, we do not celebrate relations and our loved ones as much as we should.

When we do acknowledge the people in our lives, we tend to celebrate some relations more than others. Heaven lies at the feet of mothers, but fathers, who usually bankroll our lives and provide immense support throughout, are left out when we express love, gratitude and appreciation. This father’s day, I wanted to take time out to acknowledge fathers and tell them how wonderful they have been through the years. This is something all fathers would love to hear from their children, no matter what their age or relationship might be.

My relationship with my father has been like any other child’s. It started off with me adoring everything he did to indifference to rebellion without cause in my teenage years. Later, I developed the calm appreciation for my father that many people get as their parents get older. Abba, on the other hand, has always loved me, warts and all, and took pride in every little thing I did.

I look a lot like my father, at least that’s what I have been told by friends, family and perfect strangers. I now smile and accept it, but as a little girl I would sulk to no end whenever I was told that I resemble my dad. My argument was simple: I am a girl who braids her hair, my dad is a man with a receding hairline. We cannot possibly look alike. Instead of being hurt, my father was proud of the fact that his daughter could argue so well.

As a little girl, I had a huge, wall-sized map of the world in my room and my dad and I would spend hours in front of that map discussing countries, food, geography and wars. One thing we always discussed while standing in front of that map was traveling. We planned a million and one trips for later and my top three destinations of choice were the coffee plantations of Colombia, Cairo and Venice. Those trips together never materialised because his health deteriorated after my mother’s sudden and untimely demise. But he took great joy when I traveled to these places (I am yet to discover Colombian coffee plantations) and made memories for both of us.

Before I discovered the Internet, my father was my Google, encyclopedia and Wikipedia – all rolled into one. Whether I would want to know about the Stockholm syndrome, the Crimean wars or Issac Newton, my father was my go-to person and he never disappointed. Abba introduced me to Mumtaz Mufti, Ghalib, Jospeh Conrad and Anton Chekov and inculcated the love for the written word in me. I may have inherited more than just facial features from my dad because my wanderlust, my love for books, my pragmatism and my never-say-die attitude all come from him.

Although Abba has never been very demonstrative about love and affection, and I always thought that he cared about his children in a very casual manner, I know now that we have always been the centre of his life. I only realized how much he loved me when I left to go to college abroad. He never once told me how much he would miss me, but cried for hours after I left and even developed an eye infection as a result. When I got to know about it, I called Abba and said that I would come back if he wanted me to. He told me to stay put and finish my degree and joked that while Prophet Yaqoob lost his eyesight while crying for his lost son Yousuf, he only had conjunctivitis.

It was only after this I remembered all those incidents of quiet fatherly pride he took in everything I did, whether it was my high school results, my sports achievements or my work. I do remember him beaming with pleasure when I first got published. He called everyone when I was not around to make sure that the world knew about the accomplishments of his daughter.

I lost my mother when I was a teenager and never really had a chance to tell her how much I loved her and what she meant to me. My father is not well these days. He is hospitalised and fighting ill health and weakness. This father’s day, I want him to know that he is much loved and appreciated. Whatever I am today is because of my dad, because of his affection, compassion and guidance. He always encouraged me in whatever course of action I took, and never stopped me from doing anything because I am a girl. Perhaps his greatest gift is that he never placed barriers to my flight of imagination. I love you Abba, and I want to thank you for enriching my life and being such a wonderful father.

Originally published in Dawn

Jun 7, 2009 - Uncategorized    7 Comments

The ghetto of women’s writing

Back in 2001 during my rookie reporting days, I wrote a piece on the renewed Intifada which was quite well received. One of the senior assistant editors who was at least 75 years old at that point in time (yes, it was the time when Dawn still had its geriatric brigade roaming the Islamabad corridor) called me and asked me why did I choose to write on intifada. Being the super naïve, extra exuberant idiot that I was, I went on and on about how international politics fascinates me and how I want to write political commentary regularly.

After I was done with my tirade, he smiled a benevolent smile and told me in no uncertain terms that I should stop worrying my pretty little head about stuff as gruesome as Intefada and should stick to things bright and shiny – like fashion and pop music. Before I could say that unlike the old gent who had a degree in Persian literature, being a student of International Relations in general and of people’s movement and confidence building measures in particular, I was actually qualified to write on Intifada and Middle East crisis. I was too young and inexperienced to know that assistant editor probably was afraid of a newbie taking over his area of expertise.

Hajrah Mumtaz’s excellent piece ‘The ghetto of ‘women are writing’ in Dawn today reminded me that I too have been pushed to the ghetto of light & fluffy writing at one point in time. Thank heavens that I was too stubborn to listen to the old gent and wrote about everything under the sun.

Apr 24, 2009 - Uncategorized    65 Comments


I just want to thank all the people who extended good wishes to me. My dad is still hospitalized but he is hanging in there and is determined to get better and I am sure that he will get better with his resolve.

While most people send nothing but good wishes for my dad’s health and commiserated over my loss due to robbery, there are some who take pleasure in other people’s misery, even though they have never met them.

I got this comment last night where a guy (curiously named Talib) I never met is actually happy at my loss; here is what he had to say to me:

Well, I don’t know if you administer the comments on your blog or not, but I hope you will let it go.

Haven’t you heard of the word back up? If you haven’t then u r not that smart you pretend to be and you totally deserve this

and if you had and you were too lazy or arrogant to think that if would not happen to you, then u also deserve this

Anyways, I am happy at your lost. Sick thing to say but that’s what you deserve for saying things against Taliban by the way which also makes you a infidel.

Another email that I got from someone called samzrulez said this:

Pahle tou main yeh clear kar doon kah mujhe tumhare posts kabhi achay nahin lage, however tumhare friends tumheen hamesha support kartay rahe but i never liked it….aur tum jis tarah religious issues ko deal karti ho main disagree karta ho

specially woh waali post jis main tum nai aik old man kah baare main likhe tha kah you refused to help him sirf is leye kah woh apni daughters ko kaam karta hoa nahin dekhna chahta…

tum nai needy logon kah leye aik parameter set keya hoa hai kah jo tumhare standard ka ho tum sirf usi ki help karo gi.

tum main aik cheez aur bhi hai jo shayed tum nai khud kabhi notice nahin ki kah har jagah apni financial independence ka shoor machana aur is cheez ko highlight karna acha nahin hota kaun tumhare kis information ko kis tarah use kare no one knows….

Taz sab khuch paisa nahin hota kitna dafa zindagi main aik insaan kah pass sab khuch hota hai magar woh qareeebi logoon kah leye un paisa se khuch nahin karsata….shayed kabhi kabhi hameen logoon ki prayers ki bhi zaroorat hoti hai….kabhi aik sajda bhi woh khushi aur sukoon deta hai jis ko shayed hum imagine bhi nahin karskte….

Mujhe tumhare baare main ziada tou nahin maloom haan aik baar main nai khuch link paste keye thay jis kah baare main kaafi yaeen tha kah tum nai un ko parha tak nahin hoga….lakin tumhare aas paas kaun loog hain tum kitoon se apni kitni privcy share karti ho i don’t know….magar tumheen khud khayal karna chaye kah tumheen apnay baare main kitni info kis ko deni chaye….

Honestly, I am kinda speechless at that.


Apr 10, 2009 - women    45 Comments

Where is the man of the house?


I happen to spend the better part of last week in a hospital. No, I am still alive with all body parts intact but abba (my father) was not doing too well and had to stay in the hospital under the vigilant eyes of the doctors and the nursing staff.

Apart from keeping an eye on my dad and his blood pressure and blood sugar levels, the staff at the hospital showed keen interest in everything I did. For instance, every single nurse on the floor wanted to know what I do and why I do it, why I keep working on my laptop and constantly order people through my cell phone (most of the calls were to the maid at home, I don’t have a lot of people working under me and as a rule, I don’t order people around), whether I am married and why am I not married, if I had any other siblings who can take care of my dad and why in the God’s name I am doing all the running around, why cant men in my family take over and let me be the little woman I should have been in the first place. I was quite surprised by this reaction.

Quite obviously, the man of the house was ill and could not have done all the running around. Secondly, I seriously did not expect it from a bunch of professional women. They all do their jobs diligently and earn their living with extremely difficult and hard work yet they have this idea that a woman is not suppose to be making difficult decisions and should not be running around. What kind of indoctrination these girls must have had that years of schooling (I would rather not use the word education), exposure and financial independence did not do much to bring about a change in the way a woman’s role is perceived?


Mar 24, 2009 - Uncategorized    21 Comments

Closer to Sarah Palin

I got a reader from Anchorage, Alaska on my blog.

Somehow, I feel closer to Sarah Palin today.

Feb 25, 2009 - rant    92 Comments

WTF !!!


Yesterday, I had left my iPod at work and had to endure CityFM89 on my way back from work. The RJ used the word poignant and feel good in regard to Slumdog Millionaire’s Oscar win so many times that I was ready to puke by the time I reached home. If there is one thing that gets my goat more than the RJs who talk shit in fake accents is an RJ that talks shit in fake accent and excessively use the word poignant. I am sick of all the Indians who are claiming it to be an Indian film – it is not – but what is even more nauseating is a Pakistani RJ trying to piggyback on the glory saying that it was ‘oh so fucking poignant’ to see representation of people from the region! I mean wtf?
That was the first WTF moment of the day.

Ibteda at her blog reported that while Geo is trying to garner maximum sympathy after the brutal murder of its reporter Musa Khan Khel – the first victim of Shariat in Swat – they did nothing to ensure security for their staff in such dangerous areas. Khan Khel was not happy reporting from Matta and wanted to leave the station as it was unsafe. When he relayed his security concerns, he was given the option to either report from the danger zone or face unemployment. The poor man died in the line of duty and Geo is not only making money out of it, but also hogging the limelight. I mean WTF?
The second WTF moment of the day.

Last night, I went out to get some medicines for dad. On my way back, I saw this old man thumbing out for a lift. I stopped the car and asked him to sit. He wanted to be dropped off at the nearby bus stop. The minute I started the car, he started regaling his tale of poverty and unemployment and how he begged all the fruit vendors of the area for a job but no one hired him (I dont blame the fruit vendors though, baba ji was speaking nine to dozen and would have scared off all the potential customers) and how his family is facing hunger. Being a sucker that I am, I opened my wallet to give him some money.

When he saw me taking my wallet out, his story got sappier. He said that he has three adult daughters and two little sons and all of them would be waiting for him to bring some food as they have not had food for 24 hours. The first thought that came to my mind was: Isn’t he a little too old to father two little boys? But I digress. I suggested that instead of him looking for a job, he should ask his daughters to work. They are young and able bodied and would easily find work. I took out a 1000 rupees note (about 14$) and was handing it to him when he spoilt it all and said that he cannot eat food earned by women – it is not an honourable thing to do.

I took back that 1000 rupee note and asked him to leave the car. He looked at the note and then looked at me – bewildered – and asked why I am taking back the money. I told him that the 1000 rupee note was part of my hard earned money and as he does not eat food bought with money earned by a woman because it affects his honour, I cannot give it to him. He got off the car and asked for at least 20 rupees to pay the bus fare. I wanted to give him money but it was impossible. All the money I have is earned by me; I have no brother or husband and I do not take money from my father, there was nothing I could do without hurting his honour and I could not have done that. I was gallactically pissed with the whole incident. People have no shame in openly asking for alms but they are embarrassed if their daughters work? There is no stigma in beggary but there is one in earning an honest pay! What kind of convoluted social norm is that? I mean, WTF?
The last WTF moment of the day.


Feb 23, 2009 - Uncategorized    59 Comments

I love trouble

Last week, I wrote a series of five blogs for Dawn.com launch and I received some really interesting feedback on it. For some strange reason – or perhaps quite understandably so – I got a lot of feedback from India. Quite a few people from India wanted to know if am being harassed by ISI for writing what I did. I take this opportunity to clarify that ISI is a hugely important intelligence wing of the government and has better things to do than keep tabs on a blogger, a female blogger and a female blogger who has a personal life that is slightly more exciting that seeing an egg being boiled on a slow burner. Contrary to what every two bit journalist in Pakistan would say – that ISI is shadowing him or taping his phone calls, which sound positively archaic by the way – they do not follow or bug the telephones. They have better things to do such as making sure that Mullah Fazlullah delivers his sermon through his FM radio station on time everyday or making sure that news about PM sahib’s sexcapades do not get to the press. Believe me when I say this: if anyone has to tail a woman, any ISI man worth his salt – or wardi – would rather follow Kashmala Tariq who is not only prettier but leads a far more interesting life.

A reader from Gujarwala has threatened me with a defamation suit. He thinks that I am trying to piggyback on the fame and popularity of the “the great saviour of Pakistan, Mr Imran Khan’ (his words, not mine) and he says that he is gonna file a lawsuit against me so that I ‘stop poisoning the minds of young Pakistanis’. First of all, I would like to thank you for making me feel like a celebrity. I mean who sue normal folks in Pakistan? So I say, bring it on bruthah! That will not only help me in piggybacking some more; I may also end up with my own TV show and may get a book deal to write an expose on the great saviour.

One question that a lot of people asked is why my blog is named ‘A reluctant mind’. Honestly, I don’t know. My blog was originally titled ‘Subliminal Mindfuck’. As only three of my friends were forced to read it, nobody minded that name. A couple of months later, a cousin stumbled upon it and was not only scandalized by the name but also by the fact that it was getting a lot of traffic and comments from porn sites. My cousin thought that writing a blog that attracts porn will diminish my chances of ever landing a suitable boy. She forbade me to change the name and said that if I do not do so, she will tell my dad. Personally, I was also getting sick of all the comments from girls named Cherie or Harmony who would want to do wicked things and would like to do it on my blog, so I changed the name.

Sadly, I still haven’t landed that suitable boy and now face a lawsuit. Some people just attract trouble.


Feb 8, 2009 - Uncategorized    20 Comments

Kara till now …

Let me admit; like every other social science/liberal arts graduate, I am guilty of being fond of Indie films and obscure foreign cinema. Well everything in Pakistan is foreign cinema because we do not really produce any films so to speak, but by foreign films, I meant European, Latin American and Far Eastern films. Foreign cinema and Indie films make me feel special on many counts; for one, after auditing a couple of courses in visual anthropology at university and my brief stint as a television producer has me convinced that I have a film maker inside me and Indie flicks give me hope that one day, I may make it as a film maker. Secondly, they make me look/sound/appear to be sophisticated/cosmopolitan citizen of the world who can appreciate cinematic gems from across the globe.

As a result, I am one of those people who throng any film festival that happen to take place in their vicinity because film festivals are the places that show case odd ball comedies, gritty documentaries and quirky short films. To feed into my desire for the odd and wonderful, I am known to have braved a cold night at the train station at Düsseldorf to go attend Berlin Film Festival in 2005, managed to go to Glasgow film festival when my master’s dissertation was due and coaxed my boss to grant me a few days off so that I can attend the Dubai film festival last year. So it is but natural that I am a Kara Film Festival veteran as it happens to take place in my very own city – Karachi.

This year, Kara took place after a year’s gap and has been a sort of let down, at least on the local front. I am mostly interested in short films and documentaries and have seen a few really good ones such as Coffee & Allah, The Quiet Man, The Lost Lovers, Small Boxes and Shanti Plus to name a few. But the Pakistani shorts and documentaries I have seen so far left a lot to be desired. With the sole exception of Kiss of Life by Wayla Kayla Productions (A production of NCA students), the others are nothing to speak about. Two bad exceptionally films stood out particularly . One was a short called ‘Paint’ by Saba Khan which was trying to link real images with paintings. The quality of production was simply appalling with shoddy camera work and poor editing. The other film was an even bigger disaster than Paint. It was titled Tumhara Zikr by Shahlalae Jamil and it looked as if someone had given a handy cam to a five year old and then grabbed the kid and started running and jumping. The result was out of focus and jarring cinematography. The camera moved so much that it actually gave me a headache. The film maker captured images of all the old ladies in her family, he maid, her dogs, some other family members, a few ladies praying with their prayer mats on beds, a dholki in the family, her dogs again, a few shrines, a couple of car rides to shrines, a man in kurta and a torn book in no particular order. To add insult to injury, she did not even bother to edit them to some coherence. The sound quality was awful with background Sufi music over riding the voice over. After the film was over, just about everyone was badmouthing the film and a few of us were wondering of it can be called film making on any count?

Initially I thought the film was made by some kid who wanted an experiment in vague film making and is related to someone influential in the film festival to get a place. I later found out that the director is a trained film maker and teaches film making at the department of Visual Studies at Karachi University (I feel really sorry for her students). What stunned me most was the audacity of the festival organizers to showcase that film but also the audacity of the film maker to actually own that headache inducing sloppy piece of film making and put her name in the biggest possible font in the end credits. Kara needs to get its act together, seriously.


Feb 4, 2009 - Uncategorized    54 Comments

Of weddings and new(er) insults

During the December Shadi (wedding) season, something strange happened. Quite a few people asked me about my academic qualifications, which I believe is totally unsuitable a topic of conversation at weddings. At weddings, you are supposed to ask extremely inappropriate questions with impunity. For instance, you may ask single people if they are getting married any time soon, if they have no such plans, you tell them to take the plunge and try and fix them up with first available person. You can ask the married ones if they plan to have any children and if they are not having children you tell them to procreate. You ask those who already have a child if they are having a second child and the minute they turn their back, you shake your head somberly and say that if they continue to breed like this, they would single handedly be responsible for the eventual dumbing down of the society. In short, you have the license to be as obnoxious as you can and you usually get away with it.

As I am eternally single and it has been discussed to death by every chachi, mami and khala, people have become more imaginative and developed a new set of insults and inappropriate questions to ask. One uncle asked me what I have done academically, when he found out that I have two post grad degrees in social sciences, he shook his head and said that if I had studied something worthwhile (preferably a business degree) I would be rolling in money and not wasting my time with the non profit non-sense. Still reeling from the shock that all my college education was deemed useless and my choice of career non sense.

I guess the old insults won’t do hence the newer insults are all the rage. Gotta come up with more flippant come backs now.