Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lost vendors of Lahore by Dr Tehseen Aman

LAHORE has grown from sober to intellectual to zinda-dillan. But for one old lady, it is nostalgic to reminiscence of the days gone by. At the time of Partition, Lahore had little to boast about except the Mughal architecture such as Shalimar Gardens, Badshahi Mosque and the Fort. The Zoo and the museum were an added glamour for the Lahorites. The old and young went to these places when they wanted an outing, otherwise they mopped round their mohalla, had charpoy talks and ate thanday golay served by vendors on hot summer days.

Monday, November 14, 2011

My cup of tea

A good cup of tea is a miracle and therefore very rare. The other cups are just a social compulsion.
I have been having tea since the time I could talk, and that was a long time ago. Since then I have not been frugal with either words or tea. As a kid, all tea was alike. But during the time we were looking for a "rishta" (proposal) for my uncle, I realised there is as much inequality in tea as there is among humans. Tea too comes in many castes, creeds and colours. You can figure out its status almost immediately after the first sip, and sometimes even before that. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

“The plays we do are for the ‘burger crowd’ and not a wider audience”

Sanwal Tariq, an NCA under-grad, gave a sterling performance as Oscar in Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple run in Alhamra Lahore last month. Together with Felix, he dominated the stage and kept the audience engaged in a way even actors from established theatre groups can’t. This was Sanwal’s umpteenth time on stage and he seems better each time. An aspiring filmmaker and actor, he candidly discusses his interest in acting, future plans and challenges.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A bond of blood

Dengue patients in Lahore have had a high mortality rate and usually it is the fallen platelet count in the blood that costs life. The dengue virus hampers and sometimes destroys the body’s capacity to produce new platelets. The normal body’s platelet count is 150,000-250,000 per ?l of blood. A dengue patients platelet count may have a steep fall and become lower than 100,000 per ?l (mm3). This is alarming because it can impede clotting, cause hemorrhages and result in internal and external bleeding. Once the bleeding starts, it is often irrecoverable.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shoaib Akhtar's retired life crisis?

If you are a baller (the chap who throws the ball in cricket), who has just ran out of work after a dozen years of perpetual hormone malfunction that caused disciplinary problems, injuries and media hype-what would you do when all that has ended? You would do what Shoaib Akhtar did. 

Tale of a silent socket

The tale of Pakistan and rest of the developing world. You can be Justin Bieber on Youtube, Ashton Kutchner on Twitter or Christiane Amanpour in Syria going live from the Lasbianese border, all our cyber-activism and online glamour will crumble once the wires stop responding, which they often do in Pakistan....

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Holiday Bride by Amit Kaur

An amateur director from Bollywood, Amit Kaur, directed the Holiday Bride for her final film-making St. Xavier Mumbai. 

The movie raises a gender issue in Indian Panjab, whereby foreign passport holders marry young Indian girls only to abandon them later. This brings a lot of difficulties for the girl,  usually very young, not very educated or independent. Sometimes they end up raising their child or children alone, since divorce is often a taboo.

The dengue windfall

Medical stores have doubled prices of insecticide sprays, preventive lotions and medicines. According to them, wholesalers and dealers have revised the prices. Regular insecticide sprays that were originally priced at Rs100-200, now come for a whopping Rs400 or more. Lotions worth Rs50 or more now cost more than a hundred. Since the demand is much greater than the supply, black market has also thrived, and the suppliers are minting money.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Floods in Sindh

Floods have caused huge destruction in Pakistan's southern province, Sindh. One costly consequence of war, terrorism and politics is that it leaves no space for civilian causes in the international media and mindset. Last year the donations and international aid was compromised due to Pakistan's sinking image abroad. This year the help is minuscule. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Craft of Writing

Creative writing courses for aspiring writers seem like a new trend. These courses — usually — spanning two years — have no more than ten to twenty students in each batch, have accomplished writers as teachers ( big names like Salman Rushdie would prefer guest lectures while others may become artists-in-residence, though of course exceptions apply). 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Suffusion of a floral kind by Dua Abbas

Flora infuses so much of artistic creation that if one were to surround himself with books upon books and painted panels and canvases and then close his eyes, he would actually smell all those flowers compressed into words and folded in pigment. He wouldn’t smell the paper or the paintings, that combined smell of ink and book shops, wood and oil, he would smell roses and narcissuses and wildflowers.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Students, made in China

Chinese universities are about to give Western universities a run for their money within two decades, according to Professor Richard Levin, President of Yale University. While the West battles economic recession, cuts down university grants and budgets (the UK has cut 950 million pounds) and increases student fees, China’s economy — and higher education spending — is going from strength to strength.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Young, New and Funny

B Theatre Productions presented 'The Odd Couple' in Alhamra , Mall Road, from 7th to 10th September. The play is written the Tony award-winning playwright Neil Simon and directed by Awais Azhar. It revolves around two newly divorced middle aged roommates. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

When the towers were falling...

When the towers were falling, I found it bizarre and funny, gained a vindictive, childish pleasure. The atrocities US commited in Korea, Vietnam, Japan in 1945, its hegemony around the world, its support for dictatorships and Israel in Middle East were often commented upon.  I was in Grade 9th, sitting in my living room like many others in Pakistan before the advent of private news channels, not knowing how close a link our country has with the fall. 

Earning without deserving

Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were a teacher-student trio, called the “gang of three” by Edward De Bono, for their contribution to human knowledge.

But as the world and Pakistan celebrated the Teacher’s Day this Monday, I couldn’t help but remember, the dozens of teachers who have taught me since the age of five.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Why did the missiles go unnoticed?

A rather cocky and misguided piece appeared in Times of India called "Yes, Pakistan has more bombs than us" after Hina Khar's Indian visit. Mr. Vishwanathan, in order to not sound explicitly sexist, ties himself in various contradictory contortions. He first insinuates Khar was all style and no substance, discusses her and some other beauties and even accuses Pakistan of wanting to “evade issues” by tactically using good-looking female envoys. But then he asks “why is Indian foreign policy style so dull and listless”. So does he approve of glamour or not?
The writer seems to suffer from a version of the Madonna-whore complex...

Violence in Karachi

No one was speaking much about the Karachi violence. Therefore we interviewed some of the big names in the city and requested them to suggest a solution.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

That time of the year

Almost two hundred dengue cases have been recently reported in Lahore, in a second and more intense wave this year. The epidemic is expected to continue through September and October, monsoon months which are most conducive to mosquito breeding. The threat is higher in northern Lahore and walled city where water pools, leaking pipes and congested areas serve as safe havens for mosquito vectors.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Return of the native

Students from here have been going abroad for higher education for many decades. Today, however, the number seems higher than ever before. A pleasant surprise is reserved for those who decide to return to Pakistan. This is baffling. They have their reasons for doing so.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bringing liberalism back to Pakistan

The International Academy of Leadership in Gummersbach, Germany has dark gray rectangular buildings with huge wall-size windows that allow a view of the green hills that surround the academy. The academy is itself based on a hill that you can hike up to at any time of the day and night without much fear of safety. The worst that could happen is that you may suddenly come across a rabbit.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Living Fiction

I have always fancied becoming a character in a book. There are some existing characters I want to be for a few moments because the complete novels are usually tragic. One can play these characters on stage, but I don’t like hearing my own voice. I want a silent bond with an author that inspires him secretly and dies with him, leaving behind an immortal reminiscence. I could be Tolstoy’s or Hardy’s hero or a minor character that leaves after a few pages. Or, may be the heroine of Chekhov’s shorter pieces, a frustrated housewife who ties her hair in a bun and wins a lottery or some Petersburg elite who can’t decide which hat to wear, the blue one with feathers or the pink one with bow tie?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Jamiat in Punjab University

On a cloudy day, the Punjab University’s Philosophy Department looks serene and lush, with relaxed and preoccupied students strolling down the corridors. Yet this department pertaining to Iqbal and Nietzsche became the centre of violence last week when its teachers and students came in conflict with the Islami Jamiat Talba (IJT).

According to one student, on June 21, he was sitting with a girl student at around 8am. She gave him money for medicines but this gave an IJT member lurking around some wrong idea. When the member approached this student, the two boys got into a squabble.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

On a bicycle, exploring Amsterdam

On finishing a course in the International Academy of Leadership, Germany, we decided to go to Bonn. But on the Cologne train station, we opted for Amsterdam, a better choice, because it is in a new country altogether. And all we needed was a train ticket.
Trains in Europe are a real boon, but they can get confusing because you have to catch different connecting trains. Just two stations from Cologne we realised that the train is going back and we had to switch trains and not just

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Peace and Tolerance on 25th June

The Liberal Forum Pakistan (LFP) arranged a seminar on Peace and Tolerance at the Ambassador Hotel, Davis Road Lahore. Some hundred peprofessionals, students and youngsters from various backgrounds took part in the seminar.
The seminar was hosted by the nationally renowned anchor and General Secretary of Liberal Forum Pakistan (LFP), Lahore- Alia Shah. Muhammad Safdar, President LFP Lahore, introduced LFP- an organization funded by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation and dedicated to liberal principles like human rights, democracy, free market economy, individual freedom, secularism, good governance, freedom and liberty.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

To every writer out there...

I have been affiliated with a newspaper for almost a year now. Many people have come to me with a wish to write. Here are some guidelines for getting published in the given newspaper (TNS) :
  • It is not very important to get published in TNS.
  • If you are still motivated, then please read TNS, for at least a month and read some of the back issues.Otherwise you won't understand what we or any other paper publishes.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Last train to Berlin

Since my early childhood days I have been wondering why I am I so accident-prone. My mother thinks it’s because I am simply clumsy, but I know deep down that it is a misfortune. There is virtually no part of my limbs that has not been bruised at least once. And the places and incidents through which these wounds were acquired vary a great deal from each other. From getting stuck in train and elevator doors, tripping over hurdles in 100 meters race, standing in a falling lift and bumping into moving vehicles (rickshaws and motorcycles), I have been there and done that without any fatal damage (unintentionally of course).

Monday, June 13, 2011

Breaking the Silence

Everyone (hopefully at least someone) who follows my blog and missed it- I am very thankful. I am sorry for the silence. But it was for a good reason. No. I was not pregnant. I was away to Germany for a two weeks seminar. And took an extra ten days to have a look around Europe. It was all fabulous of course.
Germany was very green and windy, almost cold in the northern parts like Rostock. They probably never see the real summer that we in Pakistan live through. Germany is very rich (this is no secret I  know) and it has been recession-proof so far. As we traveled across North Rhine-Westphalia, 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Lure of an old book

Old books have a charm of their own. As a child, I had an aversion to them and to the old, dark and dingy Anarkali streets my father went to, to buy them.
I knew lots of girls in my class who read glossy, new books. But, somehow, that’s just not the same experience! Once you hold a seasoned, colourful childrens’ classic with pictures of goblins, rabbits and witches drawn inside

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The three Afridi girls !

I am particularly fond of Shahid Khan Afridi and co. They struggled against the odds, played well throughout except for the last one inning- so kudos there! And of course- congratulations to India for taking the cake eventually.
However, throughout the final section of the World Cup - Afridi's three little girls stole everyone's heart with their lovely, positive smiles and innocent commentary! Way to go girls! Here they are, before and after the World Cup...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Loving Marquez

The great South American writer and Nobel laureate, Gabriel Garcia Marquez celebrated his 84th birthday on the sixth of this month.

 Marquez, lovingly known as “Gabo”, has been a special favorite of mine for many years now, ever since a dear friend introduced me

Monday, March 21, 2011

Yallingup by Omrite

I should right out confess that I’ve never been to Australia. Indeed, I know very little about the place per se, beyond what little I can remember from school geography lessons, long ago. Thus, like the redoubtable Messrs Sellars & Yeatman (who wrote those great classics, 1066 and All ThatAnd Now All This), all that I do know about Australia (oddly referred to as ‘Oz’ by its natives) is all that I can remember.

Pakistan's Sexy Revolution

Two days back, a video of a well-provided but confused kid arrived on facebook. The boy starts of with saying that "We are all good people shouting slogans and our police is pushing us. For whom? Raymond Davis- an Englishman?"

He adds that our women observe parda at home but came out for the revolution today, just for all of us and our country and that Imran Khan up there is so moneyed thet he doesn't even need to do all this. Behind this maverick, you can see the flags of a religious party floating.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Landmark turned crisis

The construction of “Mubarak Centre”, a huge commercial plaza on Lahore’s Ferozpur Road, close to the Muslim Town area, was started in 2006. According to the Environmental Impact Assessment report of the project, the main building was going to have 74 floors (thus making it the tallest building in Pakistan); the other three annexes were

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Kinnaird years

Places hold us, whether we like it or not…rather like barbed wires…we leave little bits of ourselves there.
— Katherine Mansfield.
Last week, Kinnaird held its 74th convocation. Almost one thousand graduates converged in the Amphitheater behind Kinnaird’s buildings and next to its famed hockey ground. I was one of the black and maroon robbed women, in those mortar board caps.

Learning to ride

Journalism without training is like horse riding without practice. You tend to fall every now and then. And each time the fall hurts more. Keeping all these thoughts in mind, I joined a short course on media in the South Asian Free Media Association last December, which lasted two months.

Our class was quite diverse --a few journalists, students, housewives, one retired officer and one student leader who couldn’t stay away from his female class fellows.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Remembering Taseer

It has taken me exactly two months to come up with this. Taseer was usually very controversial during his lifetime. He was the front-man in PPPP, fighting the opposition with often colorful, humorous, sometimes malicious comments. His in-your-face politics frequently took the limelight. 
His death was shocking. It was sudden and too brutal for a man of good taste. However, what surprised me

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sharif takes up a motorbike, Shujaat gets a tummy tuck

Pakistan has a new prime minister. His name is Yousaf Raza Gilani. The name is the same but the man is different. Gilani (along with Rehman Malik) is now the alumnus of the Altaf Hussain School of Public Speaking in London. A fluent speaker now, he has all the answers and looks towards both sides of the podium.
On BB’s 4th death anniversary, President Zardari gave her the good news of Bilawal’s grade improvement in Law College with a CGPA of 3.7. He has sold his French chateau in Normandy and bought one in Swat because the close proximity means he escapes controversy when visiting it. Due to the current inflation rate, he has also decreased his fee rate from 10 percent to 7 percent.


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