Tagged with " Personal"
Feb 1, 2009 - Uncategorized    48 Comments

The world is connected and I am loving it.

OK people, I am officially very very happy.

Yesterday, I opened my inbox and there was an email from Mohammed Hanif (the writer) saying that he liked my take on Imran Khan. Being the unusually slow person that I am, it took me a good ten seconds to actually get it. Mohammed Hanif wrote to me!!! Not only did he write to me, he actually thanked me for saying nice things about his book on my blog.

I shrieked, jumped and called three friends straight away (you know who you are guys). My sister thought I won a lottery ticket or something and I had a stupid grin on my face for the next 6 hours.

I may sound like a demented groupie, but I don’t really care. I mean I value everyone who reads my blog, but being appreciated by someone who is a celebrated writer and personal favourite is just super cool (I know, super cool is so teenage a phrase that I should not even go near it but cut me some slack people, I am really happy).

This is a public thank you to you Hanif Sahib, I am grateful for the kind words.

I guess I shouldn’t complain and bitch about all those Daily Times and Dawn editors and my former bosses at Geo who killed my stories, ideas and articles; the right people are reading what I am writing.

God, I just love internet.

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Jan 28, 2009 - Uncategorized    174 Comments

Imran Khan & I …

This is the story of a person named Tazeen and a Pakistani celebrity Imran Khan. It tells us how some people grow up and realize things are not what they seem to be and how some other people regress and become abysmally dense.

1992

Tazeen was a super excited kid. She was one of those kids who got the chance to meet one of her heroes Imran Khan. Not only that she met him, she was also awarded a badge (along with a goody bag with Imran Khan’s autographed poster) which said, ‘Imran’s Tigers’ because Tazeen had sold a certain number of raffle tickets and raised the desired amount of funds for the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust (a trust founded by Imran Khan for free cancer treatment of poor people). So determined was Tazeen to earn that ‘Imran’s Tigers’ badge that she twisted the arm of her mother’s jeweler (a Memon Seth of all the people) and sold him a good 100 raffle tickets. Tazeen was ecstatic when she received her badge and shook hand with Imran Khan. Much to her mother’s chagrin, she plastered Imran Khan’s autographed poster in her room for next two years.

1996

Imran Khan launched a political party. Tazeen was no longer a child and was a bit skeptical about Imran Khan’s political future, but she had faith in the man. After all, Khan was one of those very few Pakistanis who were good at everything they do – be it cricket, philanthropy or fund raising. She thought he would be just as good, if not better, at politics.

2002

Tazeen was just out of school, a fresh faced journalist working for a newspaper, and was excited about being able to vote for the first time. She had plans of voting for Mr. Imran Khan’s party. Just before the elections, she got the chance to attend an event hosted in honor of Mr Imran Khan by some women in media group. Imran Khan spoke at length about the importance of justice and fair play. Tazeen was suitably impressed and asked Mr. Khan about his party’s stance on CEDAW. CEDAW is a UN Convention for Eradication of Discrimination Against Women which was signed by People’s Party government (During BB’s first stint as PM), but no further legislation was carried out until then at either national or provincial level to modify the laws in accordance with CEDAW. Mr. Khan first asked his associate what CEDAW was. For a politician who was running an election campaign and was talking exclusively with women journalists, it was the gaffe of the highest order. The associate turned out to be just as clueless about CEDAW as Mr. Khan was. When Tazeen explained what CEDAW was and asked Mr. Khan about his policy to redress the discriminatory laws, he refused to acknowledge that there were any discriminatory laws against women in Pakistan. When Tazeen pointed out Hudood Ordinance, he said that Huddod laws are a necessary tool to keep the morality of people in check. Tazeen was highly disturbed and a little sad at the degeneration of her childhood hero.

2004

Tazeen lived in England, and was reading for her Masters degree. Imran Khan got divorced and the news was plastered all over, from respectable newspapers such as Guardian and Times to tabloids such as Sun and Daily Mirror. Everyone had an opinion or two about it, including Tazeen’s Greek & Philippino flatmates. Someone said that Imran Khan mistreated his wife. Tazeen defended Imran Khan’s honor and that of her country and refused to believe that former Mrs. Khan was mistreated by anyone in Pakistan, including her former husband.

2006

Tazeen had all but given up on Imran Khan. A man who once asked Junoon to come up with Ehtesab anthem (a song about accountability of politicians in Pakistan) which took pot shots at BB, Zardari and Nawaz Sharif was kind of taking political cues from the same Man of Steel (that’s Nawaz Sharif for the uninitiated) and follows an extremely right wing political ideology (I prefer to call idiology).

2007

Tazeen visibly cringes every time Imran Khan appears on Hamid Mir’s talk show, acts all arrogant and says, “Hamad, tumhain naheen pata, main batata hoon.” (Hamid, you don’t know anything, let me tell you how it all goes).

2008

Tazeen was invited to present a paper at an International symposium on Democracy. Imran Khan was chairing a session. Although it had nothing to do with the session he was chairing, Imran Khan first regaled every one with tales of courage & valor of Justice Iftekhar Chaudhry and then about the impeccable justice system of jirga courts operated by tribes across the country. (Jirga is a council of influential and rich men of a certain tribe who settle disputes amongst themselves. Most often, these disputes are settled through cash payments or through marrying off young girls to men of inappropriate age and/or character as compensation for a crime committed).

Tazeen was neither a super excited kid, nor a fresh faced journalist who was easily impressed by a celebrity. Tazeen was as much of a cynic as one can be and asked Mr. Khan how can he support independent judiciary and an alternative justice system of jirga court because it looked like they are mutually exclusive? Imran Khan apparently mistook Tazeen for Hamid Mir (although she looks nothing like Mr. Hamid Mir, has longer hair and does not sport a mustache) and says, “Bibi apko kuch naheen pata, main batata hoon.” (bibi, you don’t know anything, let me tell you how it all goes). Tazeen has had enough of Imran Khan and his relentless support for jirga. She intercepted and said, “But Khan Sahib, how can you support a system which institutionally excludes women and poor men from the decision making process?” Imran Khan lost it at that and lashed out at Tazeen. He was red in the face and foamed at the corners of his mouth and said, “Bibi, you stopped me in mid sentence, that’s budd tameezi (bad manners) and I don’t talk to bad tameez (ill mannered) people.” He also took a shot at how horribly Tazeen was raised. Tazeen laughed at that.
2009

Tazeen now thinks that Imran Khan is not even a real politician. He is a “Made for TV Politician” who is good at riling other people in political discussion or telling Hamid Mir that is he is a nincompoop and does not know anything. Tazeen believes that Imran Khan would start doing hair implant infomercials in future which would go something like this:

Main pehlay buhat ganja tha jis ki wajah se kaafe pareshan rehta tha, meri biwi bhi mujhe chor ke chalee gayee, phir mujhe kisi ne Azmat Nai se baal lagwanay ka mashwara diya, bas main forun hi Azmat Nai ke paas gaya ……

Moral of the story: For better or for worse, everything changes.

This post has way too many Desi references and people outside Pakistan & India may not even get it. Many apologies for that.

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Dec 28, 2008 - Uncategorized    20 Comments

This is no list …

Last night, my friends and I were discussing the films we have seen this past year and no one could agree on the films they like best. Being a film buff that I am, I have seen a lot of films this past year. From super hero action extravaganza like Ironman (Asma and I actually whistled and clapped in the cinema when Ironman took his first flight in his iron suit) to off beat British cinema like Happy go lucky to everything in between.

Honestly, film watching is such a personal experience that no two people enjoy it in a similar fashion. This year, I have seen some interesting films and some unexpected films such as Ghost Town. Come on, who would have thought that we will ever see a romantic comedy which stars Ricky Gervais!!!) I enjoyed Ryan Reynolds’ Definitely, may be which was a sort of a romantic whodunit. Another film that I thoroughly enjoyed was How to lose friends and alienate people. For one, I have a thing for quirky British comedies (though this one was shot in New York and the only British character was that of Simon Pegg), secondly, as someone who effortlessly alienates people, I thought I had something in common with the protagonist in the film.

Apart from all these wonderful and the not so wonderful films, I have seen three films this year that stand out the most. The most recent film that has completely bowled me over was Slumdog Millionaire. Directed by Danny Boyle (the man behind my all time favourite film Trainspotting) and written by Simon Beaufoy (man who wrote another favourite of mine, The Full Monty), this British film is shot and set in India and follows a chai wala named Jamal who appears on a game show and exceeds people’s expectations, raising suspicions from the game show host and police. The two children who played the younger Jamal and Saleem are so endearing that they make the viewer fall in love with their characters. A must watch for everyone who has ever rooted for an underdog.

The second film that I liked a lot and have seen about 4 times is Into the Wild. Technically, it’s a 2007 release but because I have seen it in 2008, for me it’s a 2008 film that is worth at least a watch. How can one not fall in love with a character who prefers to be called Alex Supertramp rather than his given name and says profound sentences like “Careers are a 20th century invention and I don’t want one.” The fact that Emile Hirsch is quite a dish did not hurt either.

But the film I loved most this year was ‘In Bruges’. When I first saw the trailer, I thought it was a heist plot and was not too interested in it. It was later recommended by someone in the family and boy, what a treasure it turned out to be! I have seen it about 5 times since September and have memorised most dialogues. It’s a must see for everyone who likes black comedies, Ralph Fiennes or Colin Farrell.

Ralph Fiennes was absolutely marvelous in the film; his inanimate object dialogue was perhaps the highlight of the film. Colin Farrell was delightful with his colloquial use of the word “fuck” and the fact that he actually tried to pick up a girl by going on and on about suicidal midgets (or dwarfs). His character was the worst tourist in the world whose idea of tourism was getting sloshed in a pub. He was so adorable that if there was a real person like him, I think I would have fallen madly in love.

Here is a little piece of the film to whet your appetite 🙂

Dec 22, 2008 - Uncategorized    35 Comments

Fight flattery with flippancy

My friend B claims that I seriously lack charm and poise when it comes to accepting compliments. I obviously rejected her claim. Not that I get that many compliments (and I am counting ‘balls breaking bitch’ in the category of compliments) but I thought I was taking them enough élan and elegance. These are the flowing examples cited by my friend as sentences dripping in unnecessary sarcasm.

Compliment 1

Tazeen, you write really well.

My response:

Oh I just rant, if you are half as dissatisfied with life as I am, you too would be able to go on like I do.

Compliment 2

You know, you are funny.

My response:

Really, I thought only court jesters were funny.

Compliment 3

You have very beautiful eyes.

My Response:

Huh! And I thought it was Rimmel’s deep black kohl and my expertise with make up.

Compliment 4

God, you are photogenic, the camera loves you:

My response:

Does that mean I look hideous in person?

Compliment 5

You are smart.

My response:

In the sea of mediocrity, even common sense looks like a stroke of genius.

Another friend who studied psychology as a minor back in college jumped in and called it my denial of my talent. Talent!!! You can’t call being photogenic a talent, can you? She also used words like deep rooted fear of acceptance, delayed maturity and lack of emotional intelligence and God knows what else; I did not hear the rest because I had tuned her off after emotional intelligence.

Come on people, batting lashes at the poor sod who tells you your eyes are beautiful is as clichéd as it gets. Am I the only one who thought my responses were smart, flippant and dripping with self effacing humor?

I believe in fighting flattery with flippancy – no?

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Dec 16, 2008 - Uncategorized    37 Comments

Sugar daddy and Mr. Darcy

Just about everyone I know (that’s all of you my three friends and four acquaintances – dad doesn’t count because he is obviously biased) has been on my case that I should write fiction because they think I can do it. To be frank, I can do a lot of other stuff such as stay in bed the whole day, sleep with mascara on and eat a jar of nutella with spoon, but I have been never prompted to do any one that.

Honestly, I too hold a very high opinion about my writing skills and think I would be the next Helen Fielding/Zadie Smith/Kamila Shamsie – all rolled in one – if I do write. The problem is, I am not disciplined enough to write something substantial. The best I do manage is either this blog, or a few random articles I write for newspapers. For the past three years, I start something that is inspired/stimulated by whatever is going on with my excruciatingly dull life, write a couple of chapters and then lose interest. A friend suggested that Karachi is not loving enough to inspire creativity (he lives in Lahore and marvels at how Karachiites survive the pace of life) but we all know that it ranks way on top when it comes to flimsy excuses.

I have always blamed my zodiac sign for lack of focus in my life. I am Sagittarius and I read somewhere that Sagittarians are extremely flighty and cannot concentrate on anything for long. I just discovered that good ol’ Ms. Jane Austen was a fellow Sagittarian and if she had curbed her typical Sag fickle behaviour and sat down long enough to pen not one, but six novels and some other works, than I can do that too. The problem is, I have a pretty demanding job and whatever time I have apart from work, I spend it commuting. The woman who created the man most women would want to date – that’s a certain Mr Darcy for you – could not have done that while running a million errands every weekend and driving miles to and back from work during the weekdays. The problem is, I need to work to pay the bills, so I will continue to drive the length and breadth of Karachi – back and forth – in pursuit of livelihood and that great novel that I have in me will die with me.

I think I need a sugar daddy to pay my bills, the luxury of not working and the guilt of actually having a sugar daddy who pays my bills will prompt/jolt/nudge/push/shove me into writing fiction.

On a side note, if I ever get disciplined enough to actually write a novel, my hero would be nothing like Mr Darcy. Austen’s Darcy was twenty-eight years old, fairly good looking (or as good looking as a man can be in coattails and frilly shirts), quite judgmental and concerned with social status. My protagonist would be older, way cooler, non conformist to the core, far more intelligent, witty and street smart. In short, a 21st century thorough bad boy.

December 16th is Jane Austen’s Birthday.

Dec 14, 2008 - Uncategorized    18 Comments

Disconnectivity !

I am back in the cyber world after a twelve day long hiatus.

I spent these days up in the mountains and rejoiced the solitude.

Now that I am back, I realised that I have survived the disconnection to the rest of the world. In fact, I actually enjoyed it. I had not access to internet and left my cell phone charger in Islamabad so the battery of my phone died on me the very next day and I was totally cut off from everyone. The thought that anyone can only reach me when I make the effort to go to the nearby general store and make a call was quite thrilling. I now think that 24/7 connectivity is truly over rated. We need to disconnect a bit to find ourselves.

A couple of pictures from my hide out.

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Dec 2, 2008 - travel    46 Comments

Does it happen outside celluloid?

The first time it happened, I took it in stride. After all, if there are 16 twenty something- college going girls in a room and you announce to them that you are going away for a snow covered weekend to the Scottish highlands, it is but natural that they scream, “How Romantic,” but when normal adult people (men and women both) go gaga over holiday destinations and tell you how incredibly romantic that particular place is, you just look at them in wonder (at least I do) and think if they have lost all their marbles (or if they had any marbles to begin with)?

I remember the first time I went to Paris. I went there on a longish bank holiday weekend (those who live in UK or have lived in UK in the past know how very often you have bank holidays) and was looking forward to doing all touristy things like taking a cruise on River Seine, a walk across Avenue des Champs- Élysées and visiting Louvré Museum and Notré Dam Cathedral. Before I went there, I called my sister who was living in a shit hole called Swindon at that point in time and the minute she heard the word Paris she went into a state unadulterated glee and shrieked, “PARIS!” and went on and on about how romantic the place is and how wonderful it will be for me and maybe I will find someone to fall in love with. A friend back home literally broke down in tears and said that I have to do all things romantic on her account in Paris. I was flabbergasted at that request but I decided not to question that statement at that point. Don’t get me wrong, Paris is ok, in fact it is better than ok. It’s just not what everyone has painted it to be. But then what place turns out like its post card version with a promised dash of romance on the side?

Those of us who grew up on the staple diet of Hindi cinema in the 1990s do harbor similar romantic thoughts about the whole country of Switzerland. I mean Switzerland is a fine country if you appreciate good cheese, good chocolate, sheep, cows and United Nations, but romantic is not a word I would ever use in connection with Switzerland. In any case, if you are a student traveling on a shoestring budget, all romance will fly out of the proverbial window while you are trying to manage expenses in a city like Geneva.

Venice, perhaps, was the biggest let down of all the supposedly romantic cities. I mean everyone I know went bonkers the minute I said the word Venice. It was neither magical nor romantic. It turned out to be smelly, over priced and over crowded, in short, totally oversold to the tourists.

How in the heaven’s name can a place be romantic? A place can be beautiful, aesthetically magical and stupendously out of this world but romantic? Are people supposed to go to these romantic destinations with their loved ones only? What if they are eternally single like me? Are people supposed to fall in love with random strangers in these ‘romantic’ destinations? According to the film industries across the globe, strangers do meet and fall in love in such places, but how many people actually get to live their version of ‘Before Sunrise’ where they seek and find self-fulfillment and self-discovery through a significant other? There is nothing wrong with the idea of finding romance at unexpected places and with unexpected people but why limit that idea to a particular city only? In my opinion, it’s not the place but the people and circumstances that are romantic.

In any case, I want all my readers to answer me honestly if they have fallen in love with someone while traveling/vacationing/holidaying. It does not have to be a so called romantic place, but I would love to know if it happens outside celluloid.

Nov 29, 2008 - Uncategorized    31 Comments

Homogeneity is over rated.

In another life when I was a journalist, I had an intern named Nadir. Anyone who has ever held a responsible professional position had to endure an intern or two in their lifetime. Some interns are bright and promising, some are average Joes and some are downright dreadful. I have had the pleasure of working with all types and more. In addition, I have had the distinct honour of having worked with over hundred intern/volunteers at one point in time, so I am quite an authority when it comes to working with youngsters.

The reason I have singled Nadir out was because he was not like any teenager I have ever met in life, For starters, he had a really cool dad who goes by a single name, Danishmand (The IBA grads might know him. Mr. Danishmand is the director of Pakistan’s premier business school IBA). I don’t know anyone apart from Madonna, Bono and Queen Elizabeth who goes by a single name. He was the only teenager I know who reported for work in a business suit. No one in the whole editorial section of the newspaper ever wore a suit in the two years I have worked there. It was funnier because I am the queen of casual and would go to work in red trainers and fluorescent yellow socks. But these were the minor quirks, what fascinated me about Nadir was his ethnic and racial background. One of his grandmothers was Burmese and the other one was Kurd. His own mother is African American. His brother in law is Irish German and his sister in law was Latin or something. He looked African American but spoke perfect Punjabi which he learned from his father’s servants.

I recently met Aanya and she truly is the citizen of the world. Not only she has travelled extensively, her ancestral background covers six continents (no one lives in South Pole anyways). Aanya’s heritage should be recorded by Anthropologists across the world. Her ancestry is as diverse as it gets and includes parents, grand parents and great grand parents from places as far as Fiji, India, Russia, Brazil, Ireland, Lebanon and Kenya. She herself can pass as Eastern European, Turkish, Iranian, Arab, Indian or Pakistani depending upon her clothing and speaks 6 languages. For someone like me whose four grandparents were born within the radius of 150 kilometres and who only dreams about learning a foreign language (For Indians and Pakistanis, English is not a foreign language), that’s fascinating like hell.

I think people, at least those who come in contact with people from other countries and races, should be open to idea of falling in love with people from completely different background. Not only it would lead to genetic diversity, it would lead to a relatively more harmonious world, something we all crave at this point in time.

In any case, homogeneity and racial purity is over rated.

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Nov 22, 2008 - Uncategorized    44 Comments

You are not a girl and still not out of the closet. !!!

I have a gift for conversations. Whether it is small talk, big talk and plain talking, I do them all. I have previously posted the gems of my conversational skills here, here, here, here and here, here is the another conversation that speaks volumes about my social elegance, chic and sophistication.

Location: A lecture Hall in Northern Italy

Characters

Me, not paying attention to the lecture with my ears plugged to my iPod.
The guy sitting next to me.

The guy: So you are listening to music?
Me: (Taking my ear phones off) What?
The guy: You listening to music?
Me: Nah, I am listening to the FIFA stats, mind blowing stuff you know.
The guy raises his eye brow and says: Ah, a girl after my own heart.
Me: Come on, this is no time and place to be cheesy. Its 11.00 am and we are in a lecture hall.

After a couple of minutes

The guy: Can you please share your ear plugs with me and pass on one of the ear plugs, I getting bored outta my mind (It was a yawn inducing lecture in the strangest accent ever)?
Me: (very begrudgingly handing him one of the ear phones) if you really want to (while secretly hoping that he would refuse).
The guy: (took the ear phone) Thanks.

Exactly a minute later

The Guy: (sounded outraged) That’s Cold Play?
Me: Errr yeah!
The Guy: But only girls and fags listen to Cold Play!
Me: Yeah, in case you failed to notice, I AM a girl.
The Guy: Oh believe me, I have noticed and I have noticed plenty.
Me: (giving him the filthiest look I could have mustered) Then I guess you don’t want to listen to it anymore because you are obviously are a girl and still not out of the closet.

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Nov 13, 2008 - Tina Fey, women    16 Comments

How Tina Fey saved me from irreversible brain damage

Watching TV is painful. As a rule, I don’t watch much TV, but one do lapse into the mindlessness of it from time to time and then live to regret it.

Last week, I saw TV for about half an hour and lost it – completely. I caught one of the episodes of a soap on one of the local channels. It had a domestic servant who was first harassed by the younger son of her employers and then later raped by the older son. Because she was a lowly employee, she kept quiet and did not tell anyone about the crime. There was another track where they showed a mafia boss having hots for a middle class behenji type working girl. Instead of befriending the girl, he sent his mom with rishta (formal proposal of marriage) to the girl’s mom and threatened her on the side, that if she refused to marry him, bad things will happen to her family. How did her family reacted to it, instead of reporting the incident to police or something, the daddy asked the girl to quit her job and stay at home otherwise people will talk?

What subliminal message did this half an hour long episode convey, that it is easy to push women around, whether they are illiterate domestic servants or educated and financially independent girls. Men are licensed from God/society/law/whatever to harass/stalk/rape women and they will get away. After all, what rights do second class citizens have, NONE.

I was so annoyed after watching that soap, I wrote a page long letter and emailed it to the channel that was airing it and copied it to at least 4 women rights organizations. I got a letter of thanks from one of them and they said they will take up the matters with the said TV channel. Irony was, the soap was named ‘Tair-e-lahooti’ which literally translates in to ‘a bird with limitless flight’.

I switched channels and saw discovery doing a crazy scientific study about which part of body hurts most when it is pinched and I was like WTF? I was so fascinated with grown men doing ‘ooh’, ‘aah’ and ‘ouch’ after every pinch that I watched it till the end. Apparently, the back of human arms is the most sensitive area. So if you want to pinch someone really hard, aim for the back of their arms.

Among all that crappy TV, I stumbled upon good ol’ Liz Lemon at her old address (30 Rock) and what a relief it was. Where else do you get dialogues like ‘Hugging is so ethnic’ and ‘you are choosing a sandwich over a guy, that’s less cliched’ to a boss who is as adorably insufferable and screwed up as Jack Donaghy.

Here is an exchange between Jack and Liz that reminded me of … me.

Jack: So what are you gonna do with your money? Put it into a 401K?
Liz: Yeah, I gotta get one of those.
Jack: What?! Where do you invest your money, Lemon?
Liz: I’ve got like twelve grand in checking.
Jack: Are you an immigrant?

Believe me, I have had one of these conversations, and I don’t even have the excuse of being an immigrant. The only difference is that the guy I was talking to was not as fat, old or fabulous as Alec Baldwin and I probably would have a lot less than US$12,000 in my checking account.

The reason I love Tina is that she made edgy neurotic acceptable. Take Liz Lemon, her character in ’30 Rock’ is as real as it can get in network television. She strives to be a better, more honorable, more down-to-earth person and gets diverted by her own shallow, petty urges. She knows who she is and occasionally tries to assert that her rather mundane desires and limitations are perfectly acceptable. She wants a husband, sure, but she doesn’t want anyone to be the boss of her. She wants to get ahead at work, yes, but she also wants to skip work and watch a rented movie in bed. She has made it absolutely normal for women to be single at 37, wear glasses, eat Chinese food out of take away box, attract losers or conflicted people, work with losers or conflicted people and deal with a boss whose ego is as gigantic as Grand Canyon, and still be friends with him. The best thing about Tina Fey is that she can be screwed up and likeable at the same time without being over the top, unlike the clinging, coy and clamoring for attention Jennifer Aniston in Friends.

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