Tagged with " Personal"
Nov 9, 2008 - Uncategorized    28 Comments

My very first moment of blogosphere celebhood.

Something really strange happened yesterday.

I went to attend a photography workshop and the workshop facilitator asked us how we share any random pictures that we take. I said I either put them on flickr or on my blog, we then discussed something related to it. During the break, one of the fellow participants came and asked my name and then goes, “Oh, I read your blog, imagine bumping into you here.” Yes, you got that right guys, my very first moment of blogosphere celebhood.

Oct 26, 2008 - Uncategorized    30 Comments

What makes me awesome?

“I don’t like myself. I’m CRAZY ABOUT MYSELF!”

Hang on people, these are not my words, good ol’ Mae West said them over half a century ago. The reason I am repeating them is I have had a massive writer’s block for past four days. I wanted to get some serious writing done this weekend and all I did was waste time in facebook and commented on everyone’s status. While looking for inspiration to get going, I checked out Sunday Scribblings. It’s a blog that generally gives out a topic that people can write on. “I don’t like myself. I’m CRAZY ABOUT MYSELF!” is their current topic. Yes, those who choose to write on it are requested to brag about what makes them proud about themselves.

Barney from ‘How I met your mother’ generally introduces himself like this: “Hi I am Barney, I wear suits and I am awesome.” I am not Barney and I don’t wear suits but I sure like to think that I am awesome on the following counts:

I have not written a Pulitzer Prize winning book (yet), nor have I won a Nobel for Peace but what I have done all my life is that I have pushed boundaries and I sure as hell will continue to do that. If anyone asks me what my single greatest contribution to humanity is, I would say it is pushing the socially accepted norms and doing things that people said I couldn’t‎ do. I have also not done things that people said I could do, so yeah, I am a bit of a non conformist and am quite happy about that too.

Some may call me flighty, but I would like to say that I have varied interests. I have done everything from retail sales to journalism to copy writing to hardcore activism to teaching to television production to painting and pottery to amateur theatre. And that’s just the beginning; I am open to all new things and have my heart set out on a couple which I am going o try out next.

Among other things, I have managed to make some truly wonderful friends along the way. They are my biggest treasure and even if I feel down at any point in life, they make me feel wonderful about myself. I can’t take all the names here because there are so many fabulous friends I have, but I would like mention three of my friends who have loved me warts and all and at times, they have loved me precisely for my imperfections. If I am not in the best of spirits, Leena would tell me I am the smartest one, Erum would tell me I am the hottest one and Sohnia would tell me that I am just plain awesome. If I have managed to convince these three absolutely wonderful people that there is something special about me, then there must have been something special. I can safely say that I am awesome, in any case, humility is over rated, way over rated.

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Oct 17, 2008 - Uncategorized    58 Comments

Talibs are here and now

It was a regular evening for me. I left work at the usual time; little did I know that I would be subject to moral policing par excellence – Taliban style – in the day light and that too in Karachi.

On my way back from work, I was waiting at signal of Hotel Crown Plaza. The driver of the taxi next to me knocked on my window, I thought there must be something wrong with the car or something so I rolled down the window and raised my eye brow in question. It was then all hell broke lose. He went ballistic, first he accused me of promoting promiscuousity by leaving home un chaperoned and then said that we, as a nation, are facing so much trouble because our women have stopped observing hijab and what not. After the initial shock and paralysis which lasted a full ten seconds, I rolled up my window and decided not to listen to his tirade.

The signal turned green and I put the car in motion but that taxi driver decided to teach me a lesson and started following me and banging my car with his hands which was very dangerous in rush hour traffic. It was then I got really scared and decided to stop by next to a traffic police constable who was manning traffic at the signal. I complained to him but he couldn’t help because the taxi driver drove on when I stopped next to the constable. He asked me to wait it out for a few minutes so I parked my car there for ten minutes. After waiting for a while, I too decided to go, but instead of taking the usual route, I took the more crowded route because I was too scared to go anywhere less crowded.

I have lived in Karachi most of my adult life, I love living here but if this is the shape of things to come, I want out. I am scared.

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Oct 15, 2008 - travel    14 Comments

The art of travel (is to keep shut about it afterwards)

For someone who loves traveling, I get seriously annoyed when people try and ram their traveling anecdotes down everyone’s throat.

This is wedding season in Pakistan and one gets to socialize with people from whom one normally stays away. One of the most talked about thing these days at such events are the travel stories (the other favorites are how much money one lost in stock market crash and when will President Zardari get married and to whom).

Recently, a friend’s husband was on and on about Raki this and Raki that (It’s an alcoholic beverage which is extremely popular in Turkey). Needless to say he just came back from Turkey and wanted the whole world to know how absolutely wonderful Raki was, how much he misses it here and how beautiful all Turkish women are. I seriously want him to visit some other country sooner and get something new to obsess over because the way he is on, he may name his soon to be born daughter Raki. Imagine living with a name like that!

Another travel related irritant is people starting every sentence with, “When I was in States/Ireland/Australia/Brazil/Timbuktu/insert your preferred destination blah blah blah.” This line literary becomes a prefix to every god damned sentence. If they think it is charming, let me take this opportunity to tell them that it is not.
There is a serious variety of travelers who are not too happy with their stories of London, New York or Dubai, after all, every Tom, Dick and Harshal has been to these places. They have to come up with more exotic locations to impress everyone around them. The two most popular destinations amongst this group are Machu Pichu and Angkor Wat. I once met a guy who went on and on about Alpaca farming in Peru. At that time, I did not even know what Alpaca (it’s a hairy domestic animal) was so I just kept on nodding my head like a moron, I only found out what an alpaca is when I saw ‘Aliens in America’ – three years later.

Once I met this girl whose every sentence started with words like ‘When I was in Paris’, ‘French food is so….’, ‘we stayed in a Château in … ’, and ‘French Riviera is so fab’. After regaling us with the tales of French sublime and exotica for a couple of hours, she casually asked me if I have traveled to any place recently. I quietly said, “Yes, I have. I just spent two weeks in Uganda and it was all VERY exotic.”

Mercifully that was the end of the tirade.

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Sep 27, 2008 - travel    19 Comments

Things we did during Summer School

If I am the immodest type (and I am the immodest type), I would say that my posts on the summer school were a great hit. I have gotten quite a few emails asking me to send them info about any such events in future (needless to say that they are all men and are totally drooling over the pictures of all the gorgeous girls at the summer school).

A friend asked me if I did anything else besides taking pictures of sleepy heads in the class and the informal harems and getting kajal requests from random Italian women. I picked out a few pictures which detail some other activities that I was part of. Here they are:

Among other things, we ate. At least twice a day at Agli Archi (Pronounced aali archi in Italian) and we cribbed about the food most of the time.

At times, all we could pick to eat was Pizza, I think I have had enough Pizza there to last me a decade, if not more.

Some of us crossed borders and went to Slovenia

And then made it back to Italy everyday.

Some of us practiced being sugar daddies. Muhammed does look like an Arab version of P. Diddy. He may not be a music mogul but he is rich, an Arab diplomat. He lives in London and has a huge house, he likes them young and drives a BMW 7 series with diplomatic number plate which gives him the license to park it anywhere and that is huge if you happen to live in a city like London. He is serious sugar daddy material, contact him through me if anyone is interested.

Some of us ate ice creams (Italians are the Masters when in comes to ice creams)

Some of us gossiped (Wherever Rares was, gossip followed) while others (Michael) tried to work.

Some of us made faces.

And some more

We attended mega boring seminars

Some of us sang (I missed that one)

Some of us danced

And the more skilled ones belly danced

Some of us drank and took pride in it.

While it rained cats and dogs in Slovenia, we were shown flags by the boring-guy-who-thought-he-was-funny (I thought I was back in my fourth grade Social studies class).

Quite obviously, we bitched about the boring guy afterwards (It is in this beautiful hall we came up with the distinction between the fine art of bitching, gossiping and general cribbing to the new recruits of the ‘Bitch Club).

One of us posed next to a bridal car, probably because they wanted to ride in one so badly. 

Some of us went to a castle at 3.00 in the morning and somehow managed to raise the alarm. The police came to check out the place, Camelia was worried as none of us had photo ids on us and she thought that the police might want to take us with them. I thought the worst that could happen was that we would end up seeing the insides of an Italian lock up. Ken, on the other hand, was actually looking forward to compare Italian lock ups with the other ones he has been to. Much to my dismay (I need drama in life all the time) the Italian police did nothing and left us in peace.

When we got more inventive, we held “Who has the softest skin competition?” among men. 

Daniel and Alejandro were the only two contestants. There were several judges and it was unanimously decided that Alejandro has the softer skin. Daniel thought it was only because Alejandro shaved last. If any copy writers (you know who you are) decide to use this idea, I want my cut, both in money and glory.

But most of all, we POSED FOR PHOTOGRAPHS.

We all were natural born models, ready to strike a pose and pout to our heart’s desire. All we needed were the words, pictures anyone, and viola, we were READY.

and we looked good doing that 🙂

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Sep 25, 2008 - travel    27 Comments

Things I learned about myself and Pakistan in the summer school


Traveling not only opens the world for you, it also let you discover things about yourself and the part of the world you are from. I have always been fascinated by the kinds of responses I get from people (mostly Westerners) when I tell them that I am from Pakistan. The responses can be as varied as ‘oh, but you look Indian’ to ‘for a Pakistani girl, you are very smart’ to questions as intelligent as ‘Will you let your parents select your life partner (arranged marriage)’ to my personal favourite ‘are you allowed to vote in Pakistan?’

During my latest trip to Italy to attend the summer school, I met people from over 40 countries and their questions made me realise that apart from the requisite questions and assumptions about rights of (or lack of) women, people have some really fascinating questions and ideas about Pakistan. For instance, when I told them I am a Pakistani, a lot of people at the summer school reacted with, “Oh you have the bomb.” Initially I thought people were pulling my leg about something I said, but when I heard the same line for the third time, I realized that they were referring to Pakistan being a state with capability to make nuclear bombs. A Spanish guy asked me about how being part of the nuclear club has impacted my life. My response was, “Wait till I become the President, I wont feel the power unless I hold my finger on that all important button.” Who would’ve thought that there are real people out there who think being part of the nuclear club could have any impact on an ordinary citizen’s day to day life. Bizarre, isn’t it? 

Another question that I have been asked is how can my eyes be so black. Random Italian women have stopped me on the streets and when they found out I am Pakistani, they have asked me to send them the special kohl (kajal) from the homeland. I have accumulated 7 chits with different addresses and will be sending them kajals from Pakistan soon.

Hashmi Kajal manufacturers do not know how big a market they are missing. They should start supplying to Italy, pronto (that’s one of the Italian words I have abused to death in the past weeks). They think all Pakistani women have dark mysterious (their words not mine) eyes after seeing my eyes and believe Hashmi kajal is responsible for that (and I thought it was genes from my mother’s side of family).

Another fact that I discovered was that some of the men think that all Pakistani girls are trained by ISI to be awesome. Imagine ISI training Pakistani girls to go sexy on random men, now that would be a laugh. 

I have learned that there is an Arabic meaning of my name, apart from the Turkish, Persian and urban dictionary versions, which is quite different from the rest.

I have been told that I am the girl with the ability to out swear most; actually I am quite proud of that. Hell yeah! It is not the men’s domain only; we do it with far more style and look way better when we do it.

The question that was asked most was, “Are all Pakistani girls as funny as I am?” Frankly, I have been told that I am funny so many times in the past two weeks that I don’t really know how to take it. I don’t even know if it is necessarily a good thing to be this funny, some people make me sound like a court jester which I am so not. Witty, I can take, I know I am, but funny! Should it be taken as a compliment? What say?

Sep 24, 2008 - travel    35 Comments

The harems of Gorizia

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The summer school I attended sucked on lots of counts but it sucked most for gender imbalance. There were so many smart, beautiful and really talented girls and so very few men. The pictures say it all; every man had a whole harem to himself.

It indeed is a man’s world.

Rado’s Harem

Joseph is very happy with his group of girls, the girls seem happy too. Every one is showing their pearlies.

Alex too has a very steady fan following

Alejandro’s girls (although Cheryl does not seem too pleased)

Rares and his bunch of girls

Daniel perhaps was the most popular guy at the summer school. Half the girls had a crush on him (You know who you are girls).

Abdul is not the babe magnet that Daniel is but he can pulls girls as well. After all, he is an Arab (they invented harems) he is rich and related to the slain president of a small country. No mean feat I tell ya.

Last, but definitely not the least, Emir with his small but dedicated harem of two.

PS: The last picture was mailed by Alejandro, the rest are taken by yours truly.

Sep 20, 2008 - Uncategorized    45 Comments

The art and science of sleep

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Ah, the summer school in Italy has ended and we all got our certificates of attendance. Here is the documentary evidence that we worked really hard and were present in classes all the time, no matter what.

Sleeping like a baby.

Alejandro and Joseph, sleeping it off.

Alejandro and Joseph, sleeping it off some more.

Micheal sleeps in style and with accessories.

Adrian with some much needed shut eye.

This is what you call alert nap; Constantin can wake up any minute and deny falling asleep.

George of the jungle was not comfortable in the class.

Alejandro again, I guess he had better things to do than the rest of us.

Another one caught sleeping….

Emir, the man who just could not be bothered with pretending otherwise.

Lyubov decided that she has had enough of the lectures; honestly, I can’t blame her.

Micheal again, this time with glasses on for a different look.

Alejandro again with the Macedonian girl (Bojana, I think); giving the term “Sleeping together” a whole new dimension.

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Sep 9, 2008 - travel    30 Comments

And thats how my journey ended !


When
I decide to travel, something does get shaken up; at least it seems like it. I had to leave home to attend a two weeks course, if it had been anybody else, things would have been smooth for them, in my case, my boss sat on my leave application for ten days before granting me leave. After that I applied for visa and that too run into a couple of snags but that’s another story altogether and requires a full post. I got a flight that leaves at 5:45 am which means I leave home at 3.00 am. As they say here in Italy, perfecto.

But as it was me, things got more interesting. When I got to the boarding counter, it was closed and I was told that the flight was one hour late. After a while someone actually came and we got our boarding passes and proceeded to the lounge and lo and behold, I see a reincarnated version of Madonna from eighties, complete with platinum blond hair with dark eye brows and conical bra which she wore under a shirt that belonged to her when she was two sizes slimmer, and yes, she did make quite a picture.

Surprisingly, the first end of my journey was quite uneventful. I boarded the plane and was lucky enough to have an empty seat next to me; I stretched my legs, closed my eyes and woke up when we landed in Dubai.

Dubai was as mad as it can ever be and more. I decided to kill sometime at the bookshop and was horrified to find out that none of the paperbacks was sold for less than 90 dirhams, and that’s a lot of money for a poor person like me.

As luck would have it, I got off at one end of the airport and took the connecting flight at gate 149 which is at the very end of the airport, you then have to climb down the ramp, get on a bus and ride to the plane (why do they make us do that, I don’t know. If they can build so many tunnels, they could have made three more.

At the lounge waiting for my connecting flight to Venice, I noticed that there were hardly any Italians travelling to the city of canals. Along with the customary Japanese tourists and a few American families, the flight was half packed with Tamils and Bengalis of both varieties (Indian Bengalis and Bangladeshis). One woman who was travelling from Dhaka wore enough gold to rival Mr T from A team (you have not lived if you have not grown up on the old reruns of MASH and A team which was as farcical a show as it gets, but I digress. It looked more like a flight bound to Tamil Nadu than Venice, but that’s globalization.

Anyways, I boarded the plane and for the first time in my life, I got to sit next to a seriously gorgeous man. I couldn’t believe my luck when he came and pointed that I have my book on his seat. He looked at me and smiled and I looked back and smiled some more. If it had been a Hindi film, we would have started singing our first song before the plane took off, but in real life we stuck to sideway glances and occasional smiles. After a while, he introduced himself as Paulo and what followed was rapid fire round of Italian. Yes, he couldn’t speak a sentence in English and as my Italian is limited to uno cappuccino per favore (One cappuccino please), Grazie (Thank You) Prego (Don’t mention it) and mi chiamo Tazeen (My name is Tazeen) all I could do was actually introduce myself. With my luck in general and with men in particular, it had to be something like this. I could not have a man sitting next to me who was good looking, interested and able to converse in either of the two languages I know.

Marcopolo airport at Venice is another game altogether. All, and I mean all immigration officers had shaved heads, if they did not had darker Mediterranean skin, they looked members of some skin head supremacist cult, but I digress again. The immigration took no time, the immigration officer spent a total of 21 seconds (yes, I was counting) on my passport and viola I was free to go.

I took a bus that took me to the central train station from where I bought a ticket to Gorizia, which is one the last towns at Italian border, my final destination. After waiting for two hours at the platform in sweltering heat of Venice, I boarded the train and guess, what? You gotta run fast to grab hold of a seat because they always oversell the tickets. There I was, after 14 hours of journey, holding on to my suitcase in a train which was like an oven (they neither had air-conditioning nor, windows that can be opened. After reaching Gorizia, I hired a cabbie to take me to the destination and guess what he did? He took me around the city 5 times ( I have walked around the city since then and I know how tiny it is), told me he cannot find the address and dumped me in front of a hotel (their biggest and most expensive). After 20 hours of journey, I was in no condition to stand on my two feet so I went in, rented a room, and slept round the clock. By the way, did I tell you that I came out 120 euro poorer after this little adventure?

This is Tazeen, signing off from Gorizia.

Ciao, ciao.

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Sep 4, 2008 - Uncategorized    2 Comments

I – am – ‘Blogger of the month’

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Just when I thought I need some serious ego boosting, Ammar from teabreak.pk asked for an interview; yes, they wanted me to be their featured “Blogger of the Month”. Being the narcissist that I am, I obliged, here is the interview.

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